Hanoi, Vietnam JAN 29, 2020

Our last stop in Vietnam was the port of Halong Bay. 

Our first day was most certainly a long one. We had a ten and a half hour excursion to Hanoi. Yes, ten and a half hours. The reason it was so long was because it takes two and a half hours to get to Hanoi from Halong Bay by bus. So round trip it is five hours on the bus! But first we had to get a Vietnam Landing Card which we had to present to Vietnamese immigration officials upon leaving the ship. IMG_20200129_074055

Along the way to Hanoi we saw field after field of rice paddies. IMG_20200129_083244

We also saw a main bridge into the city that had been heavily damaged during the war and rebuilt. It is still in use today. IMG_20200129_101429IMG_20200129_101633IMG_20200129_101754IMG_20200129_101821IMG_20200129_101958IMG_20200129_102013IMG_20200129_102911

Hanoi, with 6.5 million people, is the second largest city in Vietnam and the capital city. Located on the Red River, it was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War. During its turbulent history Vietnam has been attacked or ruled by the Chinese, Japanese and French. The strong French influence throughout Vietnam is seen in its architecture and food such as baguettes. 

We had a young male guide named Ang. Every guide we have had in Thailand and Vietnam has been male. Ang spoke and understood English very well. This is the Flag Tower of Hanoi built in 1812. IMG_20200129_140755_1

As we drove and walked through the streets it was interesting to see how the people lived and socialized. Hanoi seemed older and less modern than Saigon. Traffic was not quite as bad but we did see a T shirt in a souvenir shop that said “I Survived Hanoi Traffic”. IMG_20200129_121435

Another popular shirt in Vietnam for tourists is a traffic light laws with GREEN/YELLOW/RED and the three phrases: I can go, I can go, I still can go.

We saw “Grab” which is similar to our the ride-sharing Uber, except Grab uses a motor scooter, not a car. IMG_20200129_101946IMG_20200129_160254

Our guide took us on a walking tour of Ba Dinh Square in Old Hanoi with thirty-six narrow streets where pedestrians and motor scooters fight for space. We had noticed while in Saigon many tiny little tables and chairs sitting around outside stores and restaurants and surmised they were for small children. We were surprised to see adults sitting on these tiny seats eating their lunch. IMG_20200129_115001

Also taking up sidewalk space were motor scooters. With no place to park, they simply park on the sidewalks, leaving pedestrians to walk along the busy streets. Later at dinner a fellow passenger, who had taken this walk with another group, reported seeing a large dead rat in the street. IMG_20200129_121200IMG_20200129_121302IMG_20200129_122000


Eleven Roosters Ready For Sale


Several Chicken or Roosters Ready To Cook

We continued to be amazed at the huge mess of power lines throughout the city.  We couldn’t imagine attempting to repair these lines. The solution seems to be to leave the old bad wire in place and just put up new wire. IMG_20200129_121131

We saw familiar stores like Circle K, KFC, Burger King, New York Pizza, and of course McDonald’s. IMG_20200129_122822

This advertisement was outside a store. To put it in perspective:

  • 150,000 dong is $6.45 US
  • 250,000 dong is $10.75 US
  • and 220,000 dong is $9.46 US. IMG_20200129_121243

Ang was very proud of our next stop, the Temple of Literature. This is where Vietnam’s first university was built in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius. Since it was a holiday for the Chinese New Year, it was mobbed with people. Contrary to the name, we didn’t see any books! IMG_20200129_103536IMG_20200129_11020300000IMG_00000_BURST20200129110408240_COVERIMG_20200129_112148IMG_20200129_114841

After a five course lunch of traditional Vietnamese dishes at a local hotel, we went to the Ho Chi Minh Tomb and Presidential Palace area. IMG_20200129_150237IMG_20200129_150159

Ang spoke very reverently about Ho Chi Minh and what he did for the Vietnamese people. The tomb was huge with guards standing at attention. A line was drawn on the sidewalk and if anyone stepped across that line one of the guards would blow a whistle. Ang said Ho Chi Minh wanted to be cremated and his ashes spread throughout the countryside. But other leaders wanted him to have a big tomb like leaders in Russia. IMG_20200129_142032

We saw cars given by Russia to Ho Chi Minh and apparently Ho Chi Minh and others wanted to model their lives after Stalin and other Russian leaders. IMG_20200129_143917

We saw the Presidential Palace which Ho Chi Minh used as an office and when greeting foreign dignitaries. According to Ang, Ho Chi Minh refused to live in the palace, instead choosing to live in a smaller house nearby for three years. IMG_20200129_143003IMG_20200129_143420

Later in his life he lived in an even smaller more traditional Vietnamese house on stilts. Nearby was a bunker he could be taken to during an attack. IMG_20200129_144404

This small concrete green block house is where he was living when he died. IMG_20200129_144553

Unlike our guide in Saigon who was critical of life in Vietnam, Ang had nothing negative to say. 

It was a tiring day and a long ride back to the ship. But we were glad we saw this historic city we had read so much about during the Vietnam War years.

Here are some views we saw on our way back to Halong Bay. There were many people selling these fresh fruits by the bag.
Halong Bay at night.

After dinner we were passing through the Lido area to walk around outside and were greeted by a huge Chinese dragon who was visiting for the Chinese New Year. IMG_20200129_191936

One thought on “Hanoi, Vietnam JAN 29, 2020

  1. karnold249

    The house on stilts are
    Like the houses in rural areas of Malaysia. They also ride on scooters and the entire family rides. All the colors reminded me of Chinese New Years when we were in SE Asia.

Leave a Reply