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Vietnam

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Hanoi - Day Two

Hanoi is, or at least really feels like, a small town (of 4 million people, half the population under 35). From a tourist's perspective, there is not a lot a tour guide can show you. The hottest item on today's agenda was a visit to Ho Chi Minh's tomb. Like Red Square, the mummified body is laid in state and brought out for viewing once a year. The Vietnamese don't embalm their dead, so they had to get technical help from the Russians to prepared Ho's body. Go figure why the Russians are good at embalming. In addition, like Mao's mausoleum, Uncle Ho's tomb (the Vietnamese affectionately refer to him as Uncle) is designed by Russian architects (and it looks it).

The guide ran out of places to show us, mainly because we don't want to be sent to yet another museum, and so we agreed to go to the "Hanoi Hilton" site. It is a horrible place originally designed by the French to incarcerate the Vietnamese. The pictures around the site discuss the great treatment the captured US pilots got after the brave Vietnamese shot them down while they were performing terrorist acts by bombing
the city.   The English
that it was not really offensive,
Mc Cain (they even have his
sold off the part of the museum
high-rises, one an office building
kept the part of the prison where
translation/explanation was so extreme
just funny. The star of the show is John
uniform on display). Years ago, they
that housed the US pilots to build two
and the other a hotel. However, they
the French imprisoned the Vietnamese,
and the English translations on the various exhibits there absolutely blasted the French in no uncertain terms. Needless to say, there were only Vietnamese and English explanations, nothing in French. I guess now you can revisit the jail if you are one of the former captured pilots and stay in a much more upscale hotel.

After lunch, we took a pedicab ride around the old town. It's a great way to see how the people live, which turns out to be mostly on the street as it is still HOT and HUMID. Anywhere inside without air conditioning has to be a lot worse than the street.

Finally, in the evening we had tickets to a Vietnamese water puppet show. It was a wet Punch & Judy show. CC loved it. [CC note: Peter was a real champ for letting me stay for the 45 minute very silly but fun performance, after he brilliantly got us into a show hours earlier than our original tickets. Now we're off to dinner at a very civilized hour, culturally enriched!]

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