Day 115, Saturday 28 April 2012, Hanoi
I woke early but lounged around in bed till 8.00 – and not due to the bottle of Jamesons I bought last night as I only had a couple, oh ye of little faith
Up for breakfast and found again that I was the only person in the restaurant – I am really starting to wonder about the places I pick – I have generally selected hotels/hostels/ guest houses that rate well on various websites, based on the assumption others would too. However it appears I choose places that no one else goes to. Maybe when I go Luang Prabang I will stay in a dorm room, though with my luck it will be empty bar me – at least it will be cheap I guess. Breakfast was average so maybe that was it !
I got my shower fixed and used it – bliss ! Loved the little flower tile.
I also discovered my first hotel cockroach in four months of travel – awesome, and about time too, I have heard so many stories of hotel cockroaches and was starting to doubt them!
For the first time in weeks I wore shoes today, I have a few grazes on my toes from the crappy flippers I was using diving and my jandals are virtually worn out now so I was getting sore feet walking in them last night.
I had loose plans to see a few sites when I left the hotel this morning, but the real aim was to walk and enjoy Hanoi. I didn’t bring the longer zoom lens which was a bit frustrating as there was a few things I would have used it on where the 20mm was way too wide – tomorrow !
My first stop was the remains of “Hanoi Hilton”, Hoa Lo Prison as it is officially named. The prison was opened by the French in 1896 and was used by them up until they were kicked out in the 50’s. It was then used by the Vietnamese to house US airman captured during the Vietnamese/American war. There is only a small section of the prison left standing. The commentary is very biased, the French were bastards (probably true) but the Vietnamese treated the American airman like hotel guests (probably not so true) and there were some great photos of smiling US prisoners to prove it. it was nowhere near as bleak as S21 in Phnom Penh.
I liked this quote from this female prisoner as she was sentenced to twenty years hard labour by the puppet government of the French.
“Will your regime be able to exist for another 20 years to keep me in prison”. Awesome !
I wandered the streets a bit more.
Feather duster seller.
LCD TV delivery vehicles !
If you get stopped by the police for any reason and cannot pay the instant fine then your motorcycle is confiscated on the spot and held for 10 days. When you get it back it will have no petrol and will possibly be missing parts. I heard one story of a newish engine being swapped for an old one. Got to love the police here !
Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of restored sword) is the centre point of Hanoi’s old quarter. The lake’s story is that in the 15th century the Gods sent emperor Ly Thai To a magical sword which he used to drive off the Chinese invaders. Once the Chinese were gone a tortoise swam out of the lake, grabbed the sword and took into the lake to return it to the gods.
Ngoc Son Temple is a an 18th century temple in the lake.
St Josephs Cathedral was built in 1886 and was closed when I got there.
After a wee lie and cool down I ventured out again for another wee walk.
Some street art, sadly most of it was covered up !
And some not so good.
Finally – a bike I can photograph.
This outing my goal was to find “Bia Hoi corner”, which funnily enough I did… Bia Hoi means fresh beer and is dirt cheap, at 30c a glass. It is made in the evening, delivered in kegs the following morning to the various street stalls and drunk that afternoon and evening by a large mix of Hanoi locals, expats and tourists.
Bia Hoi corner, it slowly takes over the street.
I had a couple of beers followed by a noodle dinner and back in my room by 7.30. Tired.