Posted by: Bert and Tania | February 3, 2010


Continuing North up the coast by train, we finally reached Hanoi which greeted us with rain and chilly weather, brr. We stayed in the Old Quarter of the city which is full of little streets to explore. And that is pretty much exactly what we did for most of our time there!

On our second day in Hanoi we went to visit ‘Uncle Ho’ who despite wanting to be cremated has instead spent the last 30 odd years embalmed in a glass sarcophagus in a big concrete mausoleum in the city centre. We stood silently in line and walked slowly around him. It was quite surreal really. He looked very tiny and frail (as you’d expect) and the orangey spotlights that they’d directed on his face and hands made it all the more bizarre. Some sceptics believe its a wax work… I wouldn’t know seeing as it would have been punishable by death (probably) to go up, open the glass case and give him a poke.

We also enjoyed rummaging through all the old propaganda posters that are for sale… the images are very powerful and at times surprising but I loved in particular the colours and type. We bought three!

We enjoyed Hanoi but have to say that it didn’t quite live up to the high praise it had received from other people we’d spoken with. It seemed to lack the atmosphere we’d been led to expect which was a bit of a shame.

One of the pictures shows a jar of coffee labelled ‘Weasel’ which is in fact a local delicacy called ‘Chon’. We sipped a cup of this coffee which is considered by some the highest grade of Vietnamese coffee. The beans are fed whole to a certain species of weasel and are then collected once they have passed through the aforementioned weasel. We’re not totally sure if they were genuine as it seems almost nobody can be trusted in tourist parts of Vietnam. It tasted good though.

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