Matt trying Pho, a popular Vietnamese dish of broth and noodles. It was good, but not our favorite thing we tried while in Vietnam.
Me, going for a stroll after dinner;)
Our first stop the next morning was Hoan Kiem Lake, a historic lake situated right in the center of The Old City, the heart of Hanoi. The streets of Hanoi really are always moving, but the lake is almost like one giant round-about, making it one of the most lively places in the city. There is an old legend about this lake… something about a king, a sword, and a turtle? We didn’t really catch on completely. The bright red bridge that crosses Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the landmarks of Hanoi. Even with the rainy weather, it was still a really cool place!
Another interesting spot in Hanoi was the Hoa Lo Prison, more commonly known as the “Hanoi Hilton”. It was given the sarcastic nickname by American soldiers who were held as prisoners of war there during the Vietnam War. There was a very sad feeling here, being an American, but I also thought it was amazing that Matt and I could actually be tourists to a place where our country once fought a horrible war. To be honest, it sort of aggravated me to see how biased the information they present about the war is. Basically, the Vietnamese make it sound as if the American prisoners that were held in Hoa Lo Prison were treated well and had the best conditions possible. They say that Americans were allowed to call home for Christmas, decorate trees, play sports, the list goes on and on. It was a little ridiculous and sad that it is depicted that way when it is widely known that the "Hanoi Hilton" had some of the worst and torturous conditions imaginable. It was an interesting experience, though, and I'm definitely glad we got to see it while we were in Hanoi.
One of the cells on Death Row
Senator John McCain was a pilot during the Vietnam War, and his plane was shot down and crashed into a lake in Hanoi. He broke both of his arms and a leg, was pulled out by the Vietnamese and taken as a prisoner of war. He lived in Hoa Lo Prison for 5 1/2 years! The prison museum now has John McCain's flight suit from his capture on display as well as photographs of him being pulled from the lake.
More random sites from our time in Hanoi...
The French-influenced architecture of the Hanoi Opera House
The Temple of Literature where some of Vietnam's most famous scholars studied
"Tube Houses" in the Old Quarter of Hanoi - these are everywhere. In fact, our hotel was one! Street property is very expensive here, so the Vietnamese started building tiny building fronts that are long and narrow as well as tall and thin!
A taste of the crazy motorbikes in Vietnam
Check out this video clip of the street in Hanoi - this is pretty much how it was ALL the time!
Duck in a basket, probably on his way to a restaurant...
So much fruit
The Hanoi Flag Tower - we climbed up to the top via the spiral staircase on the inside of the tower.
This is NOT a motorbike dealer... this is a parking lot!
My favorite Vietnamese dish we tried in Hanoi - Bun Bo Nam Bo! This was a little hole-in-the-wall place that was pretty much a street vendor. They only served one dish - Bun Bo Nam Bo & it was delicious!!
The One Pillar Pagoda
Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum... couldn't get too close to this...
The Grand Palace... couldn't get too close to this one either... I actually got whistled at by a guard for getting too close while taking this picture!
Tran Quoc Pagoda at West Lake
Very different looking than any we've seen before
Insane power lines in Hanoi
Why is it that everywhere we go we find random women dancing in the streets... anyone remember our video from Taiwan??
Some of the best ice cream I've ever had - Kem Fanny!! This place was so cute - all pink inside and right on Hoan Kiem Lake. I had to try more than one - raspberry, mango and cinnamon - the cinnamon was by far my favorite! I wish they had one of these in Oki...
On our last night in Vietnam, we just had to go see the famous Water Puppet Theater. ALL of the shows that run each day sell out even on week days - we got in the last showing! It was entertaining and the music was neat and very traditional Vietnamese. Overall, it was only an hour, and I'm glad we got to experience this part of Hanoi.
The best parts of our trip are yet to come! Stay tuned for Thailand!!