Vietnam- Hanoi, museums

18/04/16

Today was my last full day in Vietnam, and I wanted to make the most of it by visiting the museums.

We set off early to walk towards the mausoleum which is around 20 mins. Instead of heading striatum there Sarou took us on a slight detour to see the houses which sit right next to the railway. I found his incredible that their front door would open in front of a train, and everyone goes about their business and moves out the way when the train goes past. The houses here were tiny with just enough space for a bed and a cupboard. There must be communal toilets here for people living in such small complexes.

Unfortunately on Mondays Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum is closed so I was only able to take pictures of the outside.

The palace and Uncle Hos living quarters were right next to it and so I took a quick look. It cost 40,000D entrance and closed at 11am so I made sure to be quick before it closed. On entrance you can see the presidential palace and I am unsure if it is still in use by the current president. Very close by I was able to see how humble Ho Chi Minh lived. It was really basic with minimal furnishings which was quite the eye opener. It didn’t take too long to walk around it and at the exit you came across a one pillar pagoda. I read that the Buddhists created a pagoda like this one to make it look like a lotus and symbolise peace and tranquility. The one that stands there today is a smaller replica so it wasn’t even the real deal. The pagoda was free to see though so I didn’t feel so cheated.

I then walked to the temple of literature which is a whole courtyard set up to honour the scholars of Hanoi and a place to pray to Confucius. It was really busy and it would’ve been much nicer if it weren’t so busy. I found the temple really interesting as it was there that they created and studied a better way of life. They followed quite a few of Confucius books and when hey we’re finished studying they had to be tested by the King and then they would be graded. It meant that the kings of that period of time were very peaceful people and ruled the land fairly.

I then attempted to walk to the Hanoi Hilton or the Hoa lo prison which I didn’t realise was on Hoa Lo street and got lost and walked forever. When I finally got there after asking a tourist for help, I paid 30,000D for entrance. Inside is half like a museum with artefacts from the French rule and some info and the rest is a mock up of what the prison was like for the Vietnamese when the French rounded up political opponents. There was also a section about when the Vietnamese detained American prisoners there. I found it really interesting to see what the conditions were like during the French rule and was saddened to see the brutality of it, however it was interesting to know that it helped start the socialist reformation. For me though what ruined the prison was that they had added in the American detainment, as they were very eager to say how well they treated the Americans compared to how they were treated by the French. As it was over 100 years between each event, I found it hard to compare. It was almost as if they were trying to say look how terrible the French treated us but look how well we treated the Americans even though we were treated so bad. Don’t get me wrong it was very noble of the Vietnamese to look after the American prisoners in the way they did but it seemed the museum was all a case of propaganda. Overall reading up on the history of Vietnam I can’t believe the amount of pain and suffering the people went through in the past hundred or so years, it really is heartbreaking. This prison just showed a different part of the history that I hadn’t seen before so it was really interesting.

I was going to visit the history of Vietnam museum but as it was lunchtime I headed back to the hotel. It took around 30 mins to walk back but it was nice to see the city.

Outside the hotel there were two women selling some bao so I grabbed one, it was pork with vermicelli noodles. Wasn’t the best bao I’d ever tasted but I really needed some food!

I then went back to the egg coffee cafe, with Maxi who I picked up at the hotel, as it was so delicious. I took the same green bean drink and actually thought my first visit tasted better. Afterwards we found a cafe to grab some food, I had some pork kebab and a bahn mi. The service was quite poor but it was tasty and cheap. It’s really easy to eat here as there’s cafes every where you turn.

That evening as it was our last we were taken to the cloud restaurant which had a high view of the city. Unfortunately as it wasn’t very busy outside there wasn’t too much to see. The food was also quite expensive and didn’t taste as good as the street food. The bun cha I had on the street was way better.

Afterwards to finish off my last night, we headed to a local bar. It was so busy with a ton of people sitting on the streets. I was later told that it is illegal for people to fill the streets so when the police drove past everyone stood up real quick and either hid the stool behind them or threw them into the shops! A similar thing with the bar where it is illegal to be open past 12, the police come in and everyone has to leave or the bar becomes a lock in.

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