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Published: October 2nd 2018
A piece of street art we came across in Hanoi
Hanoi and Hoi An
Here comes the third blog entry from our trip in Southeast Asia earlier this year. After we left Laos we went on to Vietnam. We spent almost two weeks there and we will now start telling you about what we saw and did during those days. We will this time not tell our story chronologically. We have pulled out a few things which we will write about separately. We'll start with telling you about what we did in Hanoi. Hanoi The Imperial Citadel
The Imperial Citadel was part of the royal palace for 800 years from early 11th century until early 19th century. Many of the original palace buildings are not there anymore so the site isn't as grand and impressive as it could have been. But if you are in Hanoi and have an hour or so that time is not wasted if you spend it in the Imperial Citadel. "Hanoi Hilton"
"Hanoi Hilton" sounds like the name of a hotel but it was far from it. It used to be a prison and it is famous because during the Vietnam war
The Imperial Citadel
The Imperial Citadel was part of the royal palace for 800 years from early 11th century until early 19th century.
US prisoners of war were held there. Most of the former prison has been torn down in recent years to give place for modern buildings. But one section has been left standing and there they have a museum over the building's history. In this museum they keep saying that the prisoners were treated well but in reality it was not so. The North Vietnamese recorded a propaganda film with one prisoner named Jeremiah Denton. He is on the film saying that he is well treated but while he is talking he is blinking Morse Code with his eyes and the word it spells out is "torture".
Another former inmate in Hanoi Hilton is John McCain
, who later in life became a US senator.
Btw, wonder if it is a coincidence that the real life hero John McCain and the fictional hero John McClane
have such similar names. Northbound trains to and from Hanoi Central Station
In central Hanoi the train tracks that goes north from Hanoi Central Station pass right through a neighbourhood. The trains in some places go only a meter or so away from buildings where people live. The fascinating thing about this is
The Imperial Citadel
Many of the original palace buildings are not there anymore so the site isn't as grand and impressive as it could have been
not the tight space but the fact that the railway doubles as street to the houses. When the trains don't go people walk to and from their homes just like you would in any other street anywhere.
In one of the houses along this street cum railroad the owner has opened a café. She of course mainly targets tourists who visit the area to see the trains passing through. The tourists sure come because it is quite an intense experience to stand outside the café, with the back against the wall, when the trains passes. We took two films of this and if you watch them you can get an idea of what it is like.
. As you can see the trains go fast.
The owner of the café told us that she grew up in the house where she now runs her business. She said that she never got used to having the trains go past her front door maybe ten or so times a day. But now she can use the location of her former home to make a living from people who come to see this rather unusual street. Only unusual, not
This used to be a prison. During the Vietnam war US POW:s were kept here. In the museum they have today they say the prisoners were treated well but it was not so. The North Vietnamese recorded a film with a prisoner named Jeremiah Denton. On the film he says he is treated well but he is at the same time blinking Morse Code with his eyes saying "torture".
unique. As it turned out we would visit another similar place in Thailand only about two weeks later. We'll get back to that in a later blog entry. Ho Chi Minh
He was the first president of Vietnam and was one of the key figures in the Vietnam war. He is great national hero in Vietnam and he is lying on display in a mausoleum in central Hanoi still today, almost 50 years after he died. Morning exercise
In the mornings hundreds of people gather in various places in Hanoi for morning exercise. One good place to watch this is lake Ho Hoan Kiem. Some do sports, others dance and others do tai chi. We did our own morning jog there and felt a kinship with the others. You can watch some dancers here:
After Hanoi we went to Halong Bay, Tam Coc and Hué. Those three places we will tell you about in two separate blog entries. Instead we fast forward to the last couple of days we were in Vietnam. Those we spent in Hoi An and we went there for two reasons:
Temple in central Hanoi
A small abandoned temple on an island in the lake Ho Hoan Kiem in central Hanoi.
to have clothes made
For some reason Hoi An has become a popular place for buying tailor made clothes. There are a many tailors around and the prices for having something made to a perfect fit and to your every specification is not much higher than buying good quality clothes in a shop in Europe. Emma didn't bother to have any clothes made. She doesn't have any problems finding clothes that fit her. Ake and our travel companion Hakan however, we don't have standard shaped bodies so we decided to visit the local tailor's. The trousers Ake had made were absolutely perfect. He now thinks he should have made four more pairs...
The sightseeing we made was the following: Hoi An old town
Hoi An has a well preserved old town which is listed on the UNESCO world heritage list. The old town today is completely jam packed with restaurants, clothes shops, tailors and hotels. You might argue that the modern day tourism has damaged the city centre and that the cultural heritage suffers from the capitalism which has taken over. But we prefer to argue that the tourism industry instead preserves
Ho Chi Minh poster
Ho Chi Minh was the first president of Vietnam and was one of the key figures in the Vietnam war.
Hoi An old town. Hoi An has always been a trading centre and buying and selling stuff is what they have always done there. Buying and selling stuff is what they used to do and is what they still do. With the difference that today they trade slightly different items. We are sure they sell more hats with banana pattern today than they did 200 years ago. Japanese Bridge
One of the most popular places in Hoi An historical city centre is the Japanese Bridge. It is a very beautiful covered wooden bridge built in the 16th or 17th century. It really is a fabulous piece of architecture. It's looks a bit like Rialto Bridge
in Venice. Only smaller and made of wood. My Son
My Son is an archaeological site. If you were thinking of a small village where US soldiers committed a massacre in 1968 than it is not the same place. They just have somewhat similar names.
My Son is a former Hindu temple and holy site. It was in use from the 4th century to the 14th century. Many of the buildings are today only ruins. It was
Ho Chi Minh mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh is great national hero in Vietnam and he is lying on display in a mausoleum in central Hanoi still today, almost 50 years after he died.
abandoned around 600 years ago and that explains a lot of the destruction but sadly not all of it. During the Vietnam war the site was bombed by the US and even today it is not recommended to venture outside of the area and into the surrounding forest because there might be unexploded bombs lying out there. We saw some pretty big bomb craters when we were in Laos. Craters that were three meters deep and up to ten meters wide. Imagine stepping on one of those bombs and have it go off beneath you. That would probably throw you into a low orbit around the world.
As we wrote in the beginning we have more things we'd like to write about from our visit in Vietnam but we have decided to publish those pictures in separate blog entries. So for now this is all from us.
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