After a couple of trips away from Ha Noi, I went back to the comfortable and chaotic streets of Ha Noi again. (You have walk it like you own it)
I liked Ha Noi better than Ho Chi Minh City; I had two near accidents involving youths and motorcycles in Ho Chi Minh City. People in Ha Noi seem to be more careful when driving.
The Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh
This was rated highly on the guide books, so I felt I had to see it.
Before I even got within 500 metres of the mausoleum proper, I was relieved of the following items:
- … my bag
They took away everything I had on me, except my mobile phones, which were small enough to squash into the pockets in my jacket.
You may bring a small bag into the grounds – probably not bigger than size A5.
Even so, we weren’t allowed to use our phones within 50 metres of the mausoleum.
The faces of the guards became more stern as we inched towards the mausoleum. We weren’t even allowed to fold our arms.
The crowds shuffled along in two lines. Most of the crowd was made up of Vietnamese.
And then, we went into the mausoleum. The air was still and cold, and the four guards surrounded the embalmed body. Their faces were carved in stone. Mr Ho’s body looked very frail.
I spent about 5 minutes in the mausoleum and went out with the crowd. We weren’t allowed to linger; our feet had to move with the crowd. I don’t think I breathed very much while I was in the mausoleum. There was something imposing about the place.
It was very interesting to see the contrast between the mausoleum and the rest of Ha Noi. Nobody threw anything on the ground near the mausoleum, but everywhere else in Ha Noi.
I did not visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum, and I found the One-Pillar Pagoda to be not too interesting. The One-Pillar Pagoda is something I can see in Singapore – it is a small temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy.
The Temple of Literature
This is a Chinese style temple that I have seen quite a lot of in the rest of Asia.
When I reached the Temple, it was full of graduates posing with their diplomas.
This is a temple dedicated to learning. Many students go there to pray for positive examination results. The souvenirs here catered towards things like “Knowledge”, “Wealth”, “Success” etc.
As Northeast Asians value academic success very much, temples like this can be seen in around Northeast Asia. I recently visited one near the Lotus Lake in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. However, I cannot remember the name of the temple!
The National Museum of Vietnamese History
This place is so nondescript that one could walk past it even though he had been looking for it!
This is where I realised I had forgotten most of my archaeology classes. I knew the Cham were important in the 6th to 9th century – but why, and for what? I probably need to study some more.
The museum had many good pieces out on open display. It is so open that one can reach out and touch the relics. Including that remarkably well-preserved wooden statue of the Goddess of Mercy from the 9th century.
A noteworthy piece to see in this museum would be the well-preserved bronze drum from the 2nd century.
There were many Chinese pieces in the museum – I found the pieces on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the depiction of the people from the different countries to be interesting. I wish I could get a closer look at the drawings.
An artist’s depiction how people from different countries looked like (I am not sure if this is of Vietnamese or Chinese origin – but the text is of a Chinese script). At the bottom right corner, there is an entry for Women’s Country （女人国）. Does this allude to the Amazons??
Do you fancy ice cream? How about a sorbet?
Kem Trang Tien features a locally made ice cream that is a cross between the two. It is made from coconut milk, therefore it is not as creamy as a regular ice cream would be. However, it is a refreshing mid-day treat.
At 12,000 VND per cone…
The interior of the store is a little chaotic – people and scooters are everywhere. The Vietnamese were leaning against their scooters and having their ice cream. Watch out for incoming scooters!
This was recommended by the good staff at the Little Hanoi Diamond. When you check in at the hostel, they will hand you a map (with Vietnamese cheat sheet) and a slip of paper with the must-try food.
I only managed 3 out of 8 types of food on that list. (More reason to go back to Hanoi)
This is a group kind of food that is unique to Ha Noi – grab three other people before heading to this place. The basic dish cost 120,000 per person VND and the set meal per person (basic dish + drink + fruit + Vietnamese tea) cost 160,000 VND.
As we are foreigners, the restaurant cooked our fish for us. The locals around us did their own cooking and consumed numerous bottles of hard liquor. Nobody speaks much English, but we got away with lots of pointing.
Lip-smackingly good, and the fish was extremely fresh.
I am going to throw in some interesting pictures below that don’t belong anywhere: