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Published: February 12th 2014
Hello from Asia! For those of you who don't know Amy and I are on a month long trip that takes us from Vietnam across Cambodia to Thailand. At this point we just arrived in Ho Chi Minh City after spending a week in and around Hanoi. First thoughts are that HCMC is a much more modern city than Hanoi.
This being the first time either of us have been to Asia we've had some adjusting to do. We mostly stuck around the old part of town in Hanoi. Street food is a big part of the locals lives and we dove right in as well. While sitting in a 6" tall plastic chair 2 feet from a hundred motorcycles wizzing by we've eaten pho, steamed buns, grilled meats, spring rolls, traditional sub sandwiches, strange delicious desserts filled with things like coconut, sugar cane and other delicious goodness. The food has been wonderful so far and I look forward to eating more of it! The one thing I'm having a hard time with is the coffee. I have yet to have. A good cup since I've been here, and the Vietnamese like they're coffee seriously sweet. I you order a
black coffee it only means that it has no milk added (or sweetened condensed milk as they use here) but it may have 6 spoonfuls of sugar.
Around Hanoi we've visited some really cool places. For the first time in a few years I'm in a country where things are seriously old. One of the pagodas we visited was built over 1500 years ago! The other day we went to the Hanoi prison. Originally built by the French to house Vietnamese who were rebelling it was nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam war as it was used to house POWs. One of those POWs was senator John McCain - of which they have his flight suit on display. The museum is full of propaganda and they only show the US soldiers being treated well: playing basketball, decorating Christmas tree, eating nice dinners, or lounging in the yard. My knowledge of the Vietnam war isn't so hot but I'm fairly certain that's not how it went.
In Vietnam they have a traditional type of theater called water puppets. Basically there are puppets attached to Bamboo poles which are controlled by people standing behind a curtain. What you end
up seeing is the puppets performing on the water which is the entire stage. We saw the history of Hanoi acted out and it was really really cool. Rather difficult to follow along with the story though... Turtles stole or sword something something. For $4 it was a good evening.
We also visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where his body is preserved and on display for everyone to see. It's a really weird place but as it's crawling with communistic soldiers you do exactly as you're told. Keep your hands out of your pocket, stay in line, no talking, etc. On the plus side it hasn't been very warm here so having to wear long pants wasn't a disgustingly sweaty adventure. It was only 14 degrees our last couple days - 20 degrees colder than what it is now in HCMC.
We also spent 3 days on a small cruise going through Ha Long bay. It was absolutely amazing and we met some amazing people who we ended up spending a couple days with in Hanoi as well. During the cruise we kayaked through amazing secluded bays surrounded by huge limestone towers, visited a cave, went squid
fishing, and generally had a great time.
Thats all for now. We've got a couple days in HCMC now and then we're off to Cambodia.
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