We are Schvetzed (Sweating for those of you who are not Jews)
02.07.2008 - 05.07.2008 34 °C
It is safe to say that Hanoi is easily one of the most humid place we have ever been. We are constantly sweating. Beyond the weather, the city and its energy are amazing. If we had to define Hanoi it would be motorbike city. Not only are they everywhere, but there are no traffic laws or stop signs. It is almost like a dance the way the motorbikes, the taxis, the rickshaws and the few cars move through the streets. There is not gridlock traffic and we have yet to see one accident.
What has been going on the last few days. Our first day we spent touring the city. We just walked and explored. It was an exhausting day and we were lost about 95% of the time but it was helpful just to get a sense of the city. Each street is named for the products sold in that particular area. So there is one street where all the silk shops might be and another where all the art galleries will be located.
Yesterday, we spent the morning at the temple of literature which is this beautiful ancient temple honoring Confuscius. Following that we went to have some lunch and found our first and most likely only grocery store that seemed to cater more towards the western influence...From there we headed off to the Hanoi Hilton. We will have to tell you about this place when we get home but suffice it to say that the pictures on the walls of the prison make it seem as though the American pilots that were held there were staying in a resort as opposed to a prison...(ex. there are pictures on the wall of the americans decorating their cells for christmas...)
We did a little bit of art shopping yesterday and discovered that we could get artwork reproduced here for minimal cost. So we have bought 3 paintings and some awesome asian inspired cards that we will frame and put on our walls in our new apartment.
Today was a little bit more mellow. We went and visited Ho Chi Minh's dead body (Yes, his truly preserved dead body). The area in Hanoi that honors Ho Chi Minh is absolutely stunning. It is lush, peaceful and might be the only area in Hanoi where you cannot hear the honking horns of the motorbikes. There are guards scattered throughout the complex...no bags, cameras, talking or arm crossing is permitted when you enter the mausolem. We chilled the rest of the day and prepared for the next leg of our journey.
Tomorrow, Sunday July 6, we will be leaving for a 3 day tour of Halong Bay. We leave the hotel at 8 am, take a 3 hour bus ride to Halong Bay and board a boat to tour the water (there should be time to swim, kayak and chill the f out). We spend the night on the boat and take a trek the following day. We stay an additional night in a hotel and head back to Hanoi the following day. We are in Hanoi for 5 hours and then take an overnight train to Sapa. Beyond that we are not exactly sure what we will be doing. What we do know is that we will come back to Hanoi and then head south in Vietnam and then into Laos.