Seda: Visiting Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi requires an early start to the day which is something we haven’t been that familiar with for the last four months.
It is a military protected area and all very strict and orderly. Our actual sight of the mausoleum was very brief. We walked in a queue of hundreds of people, and the flow of which has seen us in and out in about 15 seconds. There are conflicting views about the body of Ho Chi Minh lying there. Apparently the government claims that it is his actual preserved body that’s displayed there. Most people however don’t believe that it was even possible to do that back in 1969. Unfortunately, we are not able to ask your opinion on that as we weren’t allowed to take any photos. But let us say that our opinion is more towards the latter as his body did look like an immaculate wax work.
From the mausoleum we made our way to the Ho Chi Minh Museum. As a part of a helpful scheme, university students volunteer to offer free guidance to tourists which helps them to practise their English and helps us have a more personalised tour. Our guide Nu gave us loads of helpful info but if we did ask questions, she’d struggle a little bit. We tried to be helpful to her somehow.
All the walking around was quite tiring so we stopped at one of the coffee shops by the narrow railway. This is an incredibly narrow stretch of railway called “Train Street” with cafes on each side for curious spectators to take photos of the train which comes quite rarely to be honest. Looking at the times written on a black board, we knew we had no chance but were thirsty and sat down anyway. Andy was enjoying his “Hanoi” beer which costs less than a pound when suddenly we heard a horn, than another one as all the people around us stood up with their cameras at hand. Unbelieving, we stood up as well and that’s when we saw the approaching train. Let us tell you that it was amazing. A train has never looked that enormous to me as we stood at the side of this very small track. Andy of course was loving it.
Another must visit site in Hanoi is the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex of historic imperial buildings contain many artefacts and items dating back to between the 6th and 20th centuries. Of course the gardens were amazing and we really did admire the hedge map of Vietnam.
Andy: A curious drink I tried a few times, and came to love is the strange sounding sweet egg with coffee or Milo. There was a place making these drinks along the same street as our hostel, and so we called in a few times. Seda would always have a mixed fruit bowl which was lovely, and you would think a healthy option, until we saw it smothered with coconut cream and condensed milk! The sweet egg drink is simply 2 or 3 egg yolks cracked into a glass and whisked for 5 minutes until creamy. Then the milo (chocolate powder) or coffee syrup is added. It’s slightly warm, but I loved it. Now, where’s that insulin?!
A place we’d seen pretty much every day we were in Hanoi was a temple on a small island in a city centre lake. We just hadn’t got around to paying it a visit until one of our last days. You reach it by way of a beautiful bridge across the water, but it was rather small and extremely crowded. This probably had something to do with the lead up to the Independence Day celebrations though.
We had a chance to try two more beef dishes before leaving Hanoi and they did not disappoint. The stir fry dish had the most delicious beef and veg, and the braised meat in the wine sauce was falling off the bone, yummy!
We will be back to Vietnam soon as there is more of this great country to see. Meanwhile, we are heading towards Seoul, South Korea. Sometimes, the visas and flight prices have more of a say on our destinations than our intentions.