Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Hanoi and Halong Bay, Vietnam

We took another overnight sleeper train from Hue to Hanoi, 13 hours this time, arriving in Hanoi at 4am. We were supposed to go straight to Halong Bay, however typhoon Conson was on its way there, so we stayed in Hanoi and planned to go to Halong Bay the following day instead. We visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh was a former president of Vietnam. His body is on display here and so is his palace and the house on stilts where he used to live and also died there too. We then visited Hoa Lao prison where American soldiers were detained during the Vietnam War, nicknamed the 'Hanoi Hilton'. It was interesting to hear the North's version of the war, where it is the Americans who have 'invaded' Vietnam to try and take over and were successfully driven out. They also claim that the Americans were treated well in the Prison hence the name, however having seen the traps set for the Americans in the Cu Chi forest it is hard to believe. We also visited the Temple of Literature, however by this time we were flagging having been up since 3.30am so wandered round in a daze.

The following day, we went to Halong Bay, about a 4 hour drive from Hanoi, where we boarded our private junk boat for the afternoon. Halong Bay is very beautiful with lots of rock jutting out from the sea. We had a delicious seafood lunch on the boat, and then visted some caves before heading back to shore. The caves were very impressive with lots of stalagmites and stalagtites, making all sorts of strange shapes, one even looked like a snakes head.

The majority of the population of Vietnam are farmers, and most are very poor which is one of the reasons they eat dog here, as everything has to be eaten in order to survive. Vietnam is a very beautiful country, with lots of lush green countryside, the majority of which is paddy fields, and I have thoroughly enjoyed travelling through it.

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