Kel: Oh my god, this place is crazy ... and a bit scary. After a 4 our journey we entered the madness of Hanoi. The main sight to see is the traffic I think. Horns tooting constantly, however many lanes they can make in a road, in any direction, no right of ways, motorbikes down pavements. Someone said the best way to cross the road is to shut your eyes and go for it. Thankfully we're still alive after a 2 day trip.
This place is pretty full on. V dirty and noisy with confident commercial folks. We toured the city and watched a (weird) traditional water puppet show (M fell asleep). We drunk beer at these wee street stalls for 3000 dong per beer (about 12p) and watched the crazy world go by.
The next day we went to visit Ho Chi Minh himself, the man who led the plight for communism in Vietnam. He wanted to be cremated but the Vietnamese decided to preserve him as he's thought of as a god here (they call him uncle ho) So we all had to line up two by two, bags taken off us, hands out of pockets, no talking, temple dress (covered shoulders and knees) as we practically marched through the complex to a very militant square building where he was kept. It felt really weird but interesting. No belongings, being told exactly what to do (even how fast to walk) We were lucky to see him as he's just come back from his annual 3 month holiday in Russia where they do a touch up! We then went to a museum about him and the story of Vietnamese people. It was very interesting and quite arty which Matthew liked, and just gave us much more appreciation of the tough life the Vietnamese have had, especially against the French, defending their land. It seemed like Ho Chi Minh really did want the best for his people, rather than a psycho communist leader like Mao or someone.
We also visted their main prison which the French built but was also used for American POWs. They dubbed it Hilton Hotel - again a pretty full on place to visit but really worthwhile.
That night we decided to celebrate M's b'day as we'd be on an overnight train the next day. We went for cocktails, even had wine (beer everywhere here) and spent a whole $25 on our meal which is loads here! Couldn't have been luckier to find a Vietnamese Jazz bar too so Matthew was pretty happy.
So typically on M's bday the next day, we both got ill, and then had to go on an overnight train. The group had bought Matthew cakes and I'd managed to sneakily buy balloons etc so we had a trading places style party in the train to every other carriages delight. I didn't drink much but M went for it - and so had a bit more private time than me over the next few days.... nice intro to being 33!