October 8, 2011 Saturday Hanoi

Today is wet and somewhat cooler than what we have become used to.  The north of Vietnam has four distinct seasons.  South Vietnam has a wet season and a dry season.

After trying yet another delicious breakfast, we board a bus for a tour of Hanoi.  Well, we get to see just some of Hanoi, as a couple of locations are not suitable for doing in the rain. We miss out on the cyclos, which is very disappointing to some folk.

We visit the memorial to Ho Chi Minh.  You may remember that Ho Chi Minh was considered a communist that the USA did not want around.  We are told that he is a very humble man, never married and lived a simple life.  Our guide, Huyen, is animated when he tells us the history of Ho Chi Minh’s life.  We are shown the cars that were given to him to use for transport; one, a 404 Peugeot, is a gift from the people of New Caledonia.  Ho Chi Minh’s house was built on stilts to resemble the type of house that the people of Vietnam live in.  In it, are just two rooms, one for sleeping and the second was his office and lounging area.  Underneath, he had set up a place for children to play and to keep them amused, he built a fish aquarium to be enjoyed.

Of course, at the end of the tour, we are moved through the gift shop.  There is only one step between communism and materialism and that is through the door of a gift shop.  One of our group purchases a Vietnamese flag, red with a yellow star.  He plans to raise it up his flag pole at home each September 2 – Vietnamese National Day.

A visit is made to the nearby Temple of Literature.  This is the site of Vietnam’s first University, built in the twelfth century, to teach royals the Confucius Theory.  A traditional music performance is enjoyed.

We have lunch at a very large and busy restaurant.  The staff number over 300 and is divided into 3 shifts.  They are flat out.  A four-course dinner comes our way and Huyen shows us how to wrap the food in rice pancakes, before eating.

This afternoon, we visit the Museum of Ethnology which houses a display dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority people.  Due to the rain, the cyclo tour of Hanoi’s fascinating Old Quarter is cancelled.  It’s then “free time” which many see as a sign to ‘take a nap’.  You see, we are all over 55, you know.

Seniors Moment.  You remember that we visited the Temple of Literature in the morning.  It must be said that 4 men stayed in the bus – and slept for 60 minutes.

Our friend Joseph got himself into trouble.  He was absolutely sure that the main group was leaving Hanoi on a certain date.  He even said he would eat his socks, if he were wrong.  Someone suggested he try his or her dirty socks.  And he agreed.  We are waiting for the ‘delicacy’ to be consumed.

Another one.  To get one of the men back at something, while Judy was entering the bus she blamed one of the men for pinching her bottom.  I am sure there will be revenge in store for Judy.

Yet another one.  We were downstairs at the snack cafe for dinner tonight.  Two of the ladies went into a dress boutique to view the clothes.  One said to the other, “You have your top on inside out.”  That lady, horrified, recalled asking her husband to put her tag in.  He tried, and gave up trying.  I wonder why?

Author: Colin Spain

The Official Blogger for Grey Nomads Travel and Cruise Group Tours

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