Thursday, January 25, 2007

Doing the Hanoi Checklist

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - check. (Was I really just supposed to walk aroud a tightly guarded building?)
Presidential Palace - check. (How French! But can I retrace my steps back, I wasn't able to take a picture of the actual Palace!)
Temple of Literature - check. (Ah, had to check the dictionary what the frigging hell a stelae was)
One Pillar Pagoda - check.(I think I'll stay right here on the bench, thank you)

I had a hard time finding the Hanoi Hilton, which was (duh) beside the Hanoi Sofitel! How ironic that a prison (turned into a museum) is sitting beside a high-rise luxurious residential complex.

Allow me to segue a bit here. As you can see from the picture below,The Amazing Race did a clue junction in Hoa Lo Prison. Was never a fan of war history, but the prison visit struck a personal chord with me. War is a messy business, a lot of lives are lost for naught, and in an age of technology, diplomacy and greater avenues for communication, agression is definitely not the only available option.

The detention cells were very uhm, demonstrative, as they had actual wax figures enclosed, cased and bound to the exhibition. Creepy, definitely creepy.

Prison Break!

Back to the checklist.

Opera House – check.
Hanoi Hilton Hotel – check. (The real one, the one that Paris has to thank for being a hotel heiress).

I got brought to the last two place by Nguyen Anh Kiet, via his rickshaw. It was a leisurely stroll down the Parisian avenues of Hanoi, but I think I gave his 70 year old legs a tough test. Here he is below, smiling but most probably cursing me under his breath.

I gave an old timer the rickshaw workout of his life...

He even handed me his calling card:

Nguyen Anh Kiet
Deputy Director
Four Musketeers Cyclo and Guide Service
“All for One and One for All”

English spoken and of helpful experience to foreign visitors to Vietnam.
Recommended by Evan Ham, Frank Palmos and Murray Yeoman.

Is my pop culture IQ dropping, or are these guys just not famous?

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