Saturday, February 23, 2013

SE Asia Day 15 - Another day in Hanoi

We wanted to take the overnight train to Sapa last night, but the train was full, so that gave us another day to kill in Hanoi. We had breakfast at the hotel again and then searched out some decent coffee. this time we were very exact about what we wanted, and we finally got the real Vietnamese coffee. Inside the silver pot on top of our cups are about half a cup of coarsely ground coffee grounds and a little bit of very hot water. The silver pot is like a French press; the water filters down through the grounds and drips like runny motor oil into your cup. We tried to order it with fresh milk, but that got lost in translation, so instead we had about two teaspoons of sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of the cup. Stir it all up and it becomes almost like a mocha ice cream topping. It was really thick and strong and sweet. Delicious and very different from espresso.


We got organized, then stored our bags with the friendly hotel staff and headed out to see another part of the city. This time we walked northwest toward West Lake.

I didn't research all these things we saw very much, so I will just write what they were called on the map.

The flag tower.


The One Pillar Pagoda


You can read about it here if you want.

Ho Chi Min Museum. We were going to go in, but then we decided we were not feeling that cultural.

And Ho Chi Min's Mausoleum. Holy cow, I guess they like this dead guy. The mausoleum was huge.

Granted, he was the leader of the communist movement that reunited the country after its war with America, but to have his body laid in state as a monument that tourist come to see? And against his wishes to be cremated too. We totally would have gone in to see him if the mausoleum was open, but it is only open in the mornings. Additionally, it is closed for a few months each year while his body goes to Russia for maintenance.


There were many other buildings in this area dedicated to Ho Chi Min; his house, his office, etc. I am not sure which one this was, but the guard would not let us walk on the sidewalk in front of it.

All that walking left us hungry. We stopped in at the first moderately priced restaurant we saw and, after some annoying waiter got in our personal space, we had a delicious lunch of French fries, beef stir fry for me, and a fried roll that tasted like chicken cordon blue for Drew.
West Lake is big. Apparently, the hip young up and coming in Vietnam live along its shores.

All we knew is that the walkways would not meet OSHA safety standards. No railing!

There was this unusual statue of something that happened in 1967 showing what looked to be a soldier hanging from his wrists and the letters USA and some Stars and Stripes. I would like to know what it said.

EDIT: Wikipedia says this a memorial to commemorate where John McCain was shot down:

On October 26, 1967, during the Vietnam War, US Navy aviator John McCain was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile on a mission against a Hanoi power plant and parachuted wounded into Trúc Bạch Lake, nearly drowning. He was dragged out of the water and beaten by city residents angry at having seen the area laid to waste by previous U.S. attacks. He was later taken away as a prisoner of war. A monument celebrating the downing of "Tchn Sney Ma Can" was erected at the western shore on Than Niên Road; McCain saw it on his first journey back to Vietnam in 1985.

It must have been pretty gut wrenching for McCain to see it.

Next was the Tran Quoc Pagoda.

There were a lot of people worshipping here.


It was time to head back to the Old Quarter.

I finally got a couple of decent pictures of some of the women carrying things. It is always the women.


And I just can't get over this traffic. It is beautiful how it flows so nicely. Here is another video. It is a couple of minutes long, but it is good up until the guy with the little dog in his scooter.



We did, however, see two separate scooter accidents today. Maybe the drivers were on their cell phones or driving one handed holding onto the large packages they were carrying - we saw a lot of that.

We stopped by the hotel to pick up our bags and walked to the train station, stopping for some street food along the way. Bun Bo is delicious.

Trading our vouchers for tickets was a little harrowing and confusing, but eventually we found our overnight train. The accommodations were lovely. Now how about the ride...


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