Hoan Kiem Lake
We arrived in the system of Hanoi today. It is a crowded place, with lots of people on two-wheeled motorised machines, zipping up and down. They seem to live of a soup called 'pho
', which consists of a noodle broth with pieces of unidentified meat in it. The centre of the town is a place where species from many systems live together. There are many young men and women with big backpacks walking around. They stay mainly in a few places where they congregate to eat food from their own home, and drink a yellow liquid called beer. The strange thing is that even though they can get much cheaper food and beer only a block a way, they nevertheless decide to eat in the most expensive places in town. My conclusion is that they prefer the company of their own to the local population, even if it means spending more money.
The civilization that is living in the sector of Vietnam have an unusual way of burying their dead leaders. They have embalmed their former leader and enclosed his body in a glass coffin. You can visit his mausoleum and file past this
Thap Rua (Turtle Tower), a Hanoi Landmark
glass coffin and look at him. But on Fridays he is not in, that is presumably when they perform the mysterious rituals which are intended for preserving the dead flesh. Unfortunately Friday was when we decided to investigate his tomb, and so we were barred from actually seeing him.
We moved on from the system of Hanoi to a system called Halong Bay, still in the sector of Vietnam. This is a very popular system both with the locals from this sector, and with the race of backpackers that we keep meeting all over Vietnam. It is a beautiful scenery of karst mountains in a deep blue ocean. There are many legends among the people that inhabit the bay about its creation, mainly involving a dragon. There is a cave here which is particularly popular with the populace. They come to this cave and shuffle through it in their thousands, looking in awe at the colourfully lit up stalagmites and stalactites. After this they all return to a very small dock to wait for boats to bring them back to wherever they came from. There are so many of them that
Street in the Old Quarter
they almost spill into the sea. I have concluded that this cave must be a very important place of pilgrimage, or else I cannot explain why anybody would want to crowd into it in such numbers.
The race of rucksack carrying species has its own interesting rituals. One of them involves hiring a boat and getting intoxicated on it and partying. They call this the 'booze cruise' and it is very popular, especially with the younger boys and girls. I don't understand why. Can they not get blindingly drunk at home? Why do so in this serene environment with so much to see? What is the use of going around on a boat through this bay if all you want to do is drink as much alcohol as possible? Are they not impressed by the karst rocks that dot this landscape? Don't they want to remember it? We have been unable to find any reasonable answer to these questions, so it must remain a mystery.
We are in the Sapa system. It is place with a mild climate, unlike the heated environments of Hanoi and Halong Bay. It is also a system
Old French Shophouse
that, though it is located in the same sector as the other systems, is not populated by the same race. Here there are many other species that can be identified by their headgear, their tunics or their stockings. They are strangely attracted to the backpacker race. Five or six of them surround and follow any individual seen with a rucksack on, and ask them many questions. They often utter the same words over and over again and we have concluded that this must be some sort of welcome or greeting. The word that they use for this is: 'shopping?'
I sent out a reconnaissance party today to explore the surroundings. They came back speaking of fields filled with rice, mountains clad in fog, hills planted with roses and small villages inhabited by the different races that can be seen in Sapa. They reported that the locals were friendly and engaging, but that the normal greeting of 'shopping?' wasn't used much outside of the Sapa locality.
This will be the final entry on the Vietnam sector. We are in Dien Bien Phu. It is an important system in this sector, because it was here
that the race inhabiting Vietnam defeated their alien overlords in a great battle, and regained their independence. For two months they fought the aliens here, who came from a different sector, indeed from a different quadrant. The aliens, so I am told, ate baguettes and cheese, and drank lots of wine. When they finally were defeated and left the sector, parts of their culture remained. You can still get baguettes for instance and some say that even the quintessential dish of this sector, namely 'pho
', has got its roots in the alien culture.
We shall be leaving for the Lao sector now, passing through it in high speed to get to the Thai sector where we hope to arrive at the Bangkok system. From here we shall enter a wormhole which will bring us back to the European quadrant. It has been an interesting experience and all those former explorers of the Vietnam sector who spoke of great peril and evils have been proven wrong. The people inhabiting it have been welcoming and hospitable and the landscapes have been amazing. I shall thus report back to Starfleet Headquarters in a positive way.
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