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Here, there, everywhere... A modest attempt at chronicling my around the world adventure over the next year (or so).

Hanoi is hopping...

VIETNAM | Sunday, 26 October 2008 | Views [441]

I toured Hanoi for the day including visiting the infamous Hao Lo prison otherwise known as Hanoi Hilton. This is where American POWs were held during the Vietnam war including John McCain. It was a quick tour and the prison actually has more interesting history then John McCain but currently he makes it more famous. I made it back to the hotel and my french friend called do meet for dinner. He also had a friend of a friend he was meeting for dinner so we met and took off on the moto for some street food. His friend was also french and had lived in Hanoi for 7 years. He had been trying to open a distillery for the last year but had been hampered by Vietnam's redtape (read bribe culture). He left us to play ping pong so Odilon and I went in search of some after dinner green tea. We talked of the Vietnam War and our lives ( I think he was a bit older then me but not sure). We parted after exchanging contact information and I stumbled back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep. Hanoi will be continued after Halong Bay and Sapa...

Hanoi part 2-AFter arriving on the early train at 5:00am in the rain, I walked to the hotel through the dark and mostly desserted city. I wanted to change hotels so I took a side trip to look at one I read about. Because it was so early nothing was open so I took at seat on the curb and started to eat the breakfast I purchased the night before while I waited. In was the first time since coming to Vietnam or Asia for that matter where the local people stared at me almost as much as I stared at them. I think they could not figure out why this random white guy was sitting on the curb in a Turkish t-shirt eating breakfast. I got to see the sunrise(well not see it) and the city waking up to a rainy Sunday morning.

After walking around for some time the hotel was still not open and I had to use the restroom. So I found another hotel (I use this word very loosely) and asked about a room and the bathroom. They were full but of course they had another place not to far. So the guy came and whisked me away on his moto where I booked a room for two nights.  I spent some time on the internet updating the blog and doing research before venturing out to find skype so Jess and I could talk. I also got info for getting to the airport for my flight to Bangkok and bought some food. I found a place for skype and called Jess to confirm. We had a great conversation for over an hour, it had been almost a week since we had talked so it was good for both of us to see and hear each other. I was then off to bed for some much needed rest. It rained off and on most of the day so I was ready to be out of the rain.

The next day I got up late which is a luxury these days and walked to the Van Mieu, temple of literature. It was Vietnam's first national university started in 1076. It was also very peaceful inside the gates and interesting inside. All the names of people who earned doctorates early on are inscribed on giant stones carved into the backs of stone turtles. Apparently the four animals that symbolize ancient Vietnam are the turtle, dragon, unicorn and phoenix. It was also during Confucius time so there is much reference to him and his teachings. According to information students had to pass four big exams a year then after enough had been passed take a national exam. If they passed that then they took the Royal exam administered by the king himself. Seems pretty difficult by today's standards. Then I made it back to the hotel for some interent time and getting ready to leave the next morning. Hanoi has been an interesting city and I am not sure whether I liked Saigon or Hanoi. That will be for next time. See you in southern Thailand.

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