Thu 08/01/09 05:35
but I still have one night on my own…

The next day we did a tour of the city. We went to Ho Chi Mihn’s tomb, Hotel Hanoi, and a 1k year old temple. All of it, except for the temple, was kind of strange for me. I grew up thinking of Ho Chi Mihn as someone akin to Stalin, not a glorified leader that freed his people from bondage, but that’s the way they seem to want to portray him here. Our guide actually said that in the North, the people love and revere him, and in the South they don’t. Our guide is from the South, and although he didn’t really say how much he dislikes Ho Chi Mihn, he did tell us things that make it sound like he’s hated in the South. Our guide made a comment that many people feel cheated in the South, that they believe that if not for the war, they would be a city much like Hong Kong, or Singapore right now. Our guide really helped me to understand the way Vietnam is. When I got here, I didn’t see Communism, I just saw a city doing the things that cities do, but after talking to our guide I see some of the things that make this kind of a dreary life for many of the people in the city.

After our walking tour we went back to the hotel. This was the official ending of the tour and I needed to move my stuff over to a different hotel. I calculated the days incorrectly so I have an extra day here in Hanoi before my flight back to Dubai. The extra day was needed for me to get my feelings in order on Hanoi, and in some ways the tour in general. I did some souvenir shopping, and then found a café and had a few beers and watched the people go by. That’s one thing that I did a lot of during the summer, and the one thing that I haven’t had a chance to do very much this winter, just watch people. We always seem to be moving, either by tour design, or as a group to go have dinner. Just drinking a few beers watching the traffic and people go by is a necessity for me. I may have started a little too early though, because at about 6pm I had a strong buzz and needed to get something to eat. Not a big deal if you know where to go, but if you’re in a place where the landmarks are scarce, traffic is dangerous, and you can get sick eating at just any old restaurant it can be a very big deal. So I did what I usually do, go to some place where I’ve been before, KFC. I did get lost about three times, but I eventually found my way there and ate.

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