Paying a visit to Uncle Ho

Day 116, Sunday 29 April 2012, Hanoi

I was awake at 5.00, I am really am going to have to put some serious effort into staying up later in the evenings so I don’t wake so damn early. One of the issues I have with being on my own is I entertaining myself in the evenings. Though it sounds like I have been out drinking a lot, i don’t really do sitting in bars drinking on my own, I am way worse than that. I sit in my room drinking alone – well sort of, I have one or two while writing blog posts, not big nights of boozing. Once the blogging is done I kinda run out of enthusiasm, in fact – I usually run out about three quarters of the way through the post and I think that shows clearly in some of my entries. Maybe I should make them shorter !

The going to bed early is the start of a vicious cycle, early bed, early awake, early out doing things, early back for a rest, early out again, early dinner, early drink, back to bed…

Ha Long Bay tour tomorrow so should be with a group – fingers crossed there are some good folk on the tour, I am always in fear I will end up with a bunch of muppets, I should be able to vet their personalities before they are allowed on the bus !

Now – I have kinda got a plan, at least in my head, sorted. I was dead keen to dive Sipidan in Malaysian Borneo, however I got an email from one of the dive companies there and it will cost me at least $1500 NZD + flights to dive, on a minimum four day package. This will really stretch my available funds, so I may have to dive somewhere cheaper – any suggestions ??

Thailand or Malaysia – I will be ending my travelling in Chiang Mai and fly to the UK from Kuala Lumpur, so happy to dive anywhere sort of in between – as long as it is GOOD…

Back to the day – I was up in the ‘restaurant’ too early for eggs, so had a meagre breakfast of horrible toast and banana and a couple of coffees. I was on the road by 7.30 and took a long walk to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Around the Presidential Palace.

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I knew it was going to busy, but wow – the queue was 500 metres long at 8.15, and it took me 10 minutes to find the end!

The start of the queue

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The middle – though I had to hand my camera in soon after – no cameras allowed from here to the mausoleums exit.

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The end of the queue !

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However the queue moved pretty quickly and I was through in half an hour. The visit was interesting – basically you queues for ages, shuffle quickly through the mausoleum, past dead Uncle Ho and out the other side. No stopping, no lingering and definitely no photos, I slowed down a bit inside as I kept stepping on the heel of the young girl in front of me – and got a hurry up nudge on the arm by one of the numerous guards.

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After a slow walk through the palace grounds with hundreds of Vietnamese I visited the One Pillar Pagoda, but decided to flag the nearby museum as it looked like a repeat of the HCM museum in HCMC (as it were !)

HCM’s place of residence in the 50’s

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One Pillar Pagoda

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I went in search of coffee on the way to my next stop which was the temple of literature, I wanted airconned – or at least fan cooled coffee, though it was cloudy and only 29 degrees I was still sweating like a trooper and needed a seat and a cool down, a roadside coffee was not going to work – though I should have taken one as I found nothing !

Public holiday tomorrow (Monday 30 April) – Reunification Day (fall of Saigon day to some). An interesting day to be a westerner in Vietnam.P1120597

The temple of literature was barely interesting, I am not sure if there was war damage to it, but everything is so renovated and concreted, new features are still being added, and it really detracts from the ambience of historical sites. I have mentioned this before, so no ranting now ! It was worth visiting, but was hardly a highlight of Vietnam.

This is really common in Buddhist temples, relics that have been rubbed so many times over the years there is a shiny spot. I think it is awesome.

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Vietnamese calligraphy.

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The place was fairly busy so I was amazed to be able to grab this shot without too long a wait.

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I had been on my feet for three hours by the time I left and was in need of water and coffee and some food , I wandered back into the old quarter to try and find my lunch spot from yesterday, maybe I was confused by being so dehydrated but I just could not find it and almost got lost wandering around I stopped for a coffee and chicken rice at a random place and found the wifi wasn’t working which was frustrating as I would have gone somewhere else that had wifi and relaxed for a while. So, it was back to the hotel room for a cooling shower and a lie down – bushed, and it is only 12.30. It was a good morning though, I do like walking around watching all the people, especially the lost tourists !

Yesterday I handed some washing in to the hotel to do, I got it back today and every item has a small label with my room number attached by two safety pins – labour is so cheap here.

After a wee lie down I started work on finalising some plans, I got myself booked on a flight from Hanoi to Luang Prabang in Laos for the third May, which kinda settles my plans for Vietnam ! I was planning on flying from Luang Prabang down to Pakse and then making my way back up to Vientane and then over to Chiang Mai, but there is no flight to Pakse anymore… going to have to rethink my whole damn schedule again : (

Bah, I went for walkabout, a couple of beers and some dinner.

A lovely (is there such a thing ?) old Citreon.

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I have sort of liked Hanoi, but like all large cities it is very impersonal and I have not connected with anyone since I have been here – this makes meal times less than fun times, though like all big cities wandering the streets is always interesting. I have been a bit reluctant to take photos here, there has always been someone in shot and I really do not want to offend by snapping peoples photos without their permission, well if they are looking at me anyway : )

After dinner it was back to the room to watch a bit of TV, review todays photos and post this blog entry!

About wheresphil

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, now living in London.
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