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Published: April 17th 2018
An early start today and a drive through the rush hour traffic, watching the Vietnamese going about their business. The roads (and pavements) are full of people carrying an array of goods on motorbikes. The parks are full of people working out; tai chi, martial arts, aerobics and walking backwards are all popular pursuits.
When we finally board our flight, an hour behind schedule, I get into a debate with a Vietnamese man who seems to think my seat is not my seat if he’s already sitting in it. I hold firm – I’m not giving up a window seat without a fight. Eventually an air hostess intervenes as I am blocking the aisle.
We arrive in Hanoi and go for lunch by Hoan Kiem Lake in a restaurant with a great view and rubbish food before visiting Hoa Lo Prison. Originally built by the French, predominantly for political prisoners, it was later used by the Vietnamese to detain American PoWs (who sarcastically dubbed it the Hanoi Hilton). It shows the barbaric conditions the brave Vietnamese prisoners endured, with plenty of sad, emaciated life size models. There’s also a section on the US prisoners who, it is alleged, lived
an idyllic lifestyle eating, laughing and playing basketball. Eventually the propaganda gets tiring and we rush through the heroes of the revolution shrine, fight our way across several roads of rush hour traffic and return to our hotel.
In the evening daughter no 1 arrives and we have dinner at Don Duck; a restaurant which specialises, not surprisingly, in duck. We have duck spring rolls and the house special marinated duck, washed down with Hanoi beer. All excellent and the beer makes the walk home seem less daunting.
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