Day 125: Hanoi, Vietnam.

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April 1st 2010
Published: April 9th 2010
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Day 125: Thursday, April 1st, 2010.
early morning train arrives in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Per the Intrepid Notes, "Day 7 Hanoi
We arrive in the morning in Hanoi. After freshening up at the hotel, we visit KOTO youth training restaurant for breakfast. This inspirational place, run by the energetic Mr Jimmy Pham, gives street kids a chance to learn skills in hospitality so they can build a brighter future. Following breakfast, you can take an optional tour of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, which includes the One Pillar Pagoda, the stilt house Ho lived in as well as the Ho Chi Minh Museum. The rest of the day is free to explore the rest of Hanoi, one of Intrepid's favourite cities. We strongly recommend that you venture into the atmospheric Old Quarter to see the Vietnam of old, stroll the tree-lined boulevards to admire the French architecture or visit one of the many museums for some insight into the country's turbulent history. Our hotel in Hanoi is centrally located near the historic Temple of Literature and Old Quarter, and has twin and double rooms with ensuite bathrooms and air conditioning."

It would appear that I am unable to sleep on trains. This one didn't smell like Egypt and it was cleaner, but I still was freaked about what germs I was touching. I have a silk sleeping sack that I slept in but I was still afraid to roll over all night in case my arm shot out and touched the trains sheets and picked up some skin eating bacteria. I'm starting to get worried that this trip is turning me into Monk. I'm seeing germs everywhere. Anyway, yeah, so didn't really sleep on the train- everyone else conked out.

We got into Hanoi around 6am, went to the hotel, the Hong Ngoc Hotel, dropped off our bags and headed out for a scheduled breakfast at KOTO (Know One Teach One). This is a restaurant this is designed to get the kids off the streets and to teach them a valuable trade in the restaurant industry. The buffet was very Western style and was good- kept our minds off the fact that it was 7 am.

We then headed over to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where Uncle Ho is interred. We walked 2x2, very somberly, and with our hands out of our pockets, into the giant room where he is kept. Honestly, I didn't want to do this. I've seen enough dead bodies, don't need to see another. So, I glanced at him but mainly watched the many guards guarding him. We got out of there, snagged a picture of the outside (needless to say, no pictures allowed inside) and walked over to the Presidential Palace which we couldn't go into because it's still in use. We then took a quick tour the home complex where Ho Chi Minh lived for his final years. He lived quite plainly (well, a few luxuries- had some impressive cars) and he actually had requested to be cremated when he died because he didn't want the country to spend a bunch of money on him. Well, those wishes were definitely not kept. Sorry Uncle Ho.

Nearby was the One Pillar Pagoda and then myself and Joe were done. We were exhausted. So, we took a cab, along with Tini, Susan, Stephanie and Taylor who were going to go shopping back by the hotel. I went up to my room and crashed and worked on pictures while watching HBO. Happy. Those that hadn't hopped in the taxi went to a museum whose name I can't remember as well as the Hoa Lo Prison AKA the Hanoi Hilton. Some said the jail was cool, some said it wasn't. I wouldn't have minded going but I was happy crashing.

Susan came in a couple of hours later and we each had a nap for about an hour before we met up with the group again to go to the Thang Long Puppet Theatre. This is a water puppet theatre that is a long standing tradition here. It was interesting to see, can't say it was a thrilling performance, but a unique idea. After that, we wandered over The Hoc Bridge to the Vestige Ngocson Temple. Lastly, Bao took us to a bar for some evening drinks. At first, I thought he had gone insane because he took us to Old Town where the streets are tiny and there are people everywhere and he pointed out teeny tiny red chairs that were facing the road for us to sit in. Ends up it was pretty damn cool. Someone brought us some drinks and we sat and watched the very different world go by for about 30 minutes. Then, we were all starving to death (I hadn't had lunch and had gotten sick off of breakfast back at Uncle Ho's house). We had a nice dinner at "Little Hanoi Vietnamese Restaurant" and headed back to the hotel and ended the night.

Additional photos below
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18th May 2010

You spent the rest of the trip in a bubble to avoid the flesh eating bacteria?
Man, I can't believe you went to the puppet water theater! Do you have any idea how many puppets drown each year in servitude of that horribly exploitative "theater"? Astounding!

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