Hanoi: so many people!

Hanoi and Thang Long celebrations

The traffic in Vietnam is seriously crazy! Take care crossing the road in Asia.We landed in Hanoi during the Thang Long Hanoi – 1000 year celebrations.  Apparently it’s wall-to-wall people at the best of times, but was even more so because of Thang Long. It was crowded. Really crowded. People, cars, buses, motorbikes everywhere. Every inch of space was taken up with people, or their activities.  It was vibrant, alive, and a little bit scary (we were specifically warned about pickpockets and thieves, hence the scary bit).

Our first stop was the Hanoi Hilton, where domestic political prisoners and prisoners of war were kept. John McCain (President Obama’s opponent in the American election) was here for five years. There was much propaganda adorning the wall (look how well we treated our American prisoners etc.), but there was no getting away from the cruel and inhuman conditions. However, it does seem that prisoners of war fared better than domestic political prisoners. All-in-all it was a sobering, emotional experience, and I have to ask the question: why has the human race learned nothing?

Rebuilding Vietnam

Next stop was the Temple of Literatures, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum. We couldn’t get to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum because access was closed off; his body also wasn’t there because it had been sent away for routine maintenance. Of course, I was interested in these amazing cultural and historic relics and tributes – there is absolutely nothing like it in Australia, which is a relatively “new” country, indigenous history not withstanding. I was in complete awe.

But I was also in awe of what has been (and continues to be) done to rebuild Vietnam and provide oppoprtunites for education and work for its people. Koto is one such place. It was started by an ex-pat Aussie who wanted to give street kids a chance. He opened a restaurant and trains these kids in cooking and hospitality, all accredited by Box Hill Tafe. We stopped there for lunch, and the food and service were excellent. I could quite easily live and work in Vietnam and would love to be doing something along those lines.

Cycloing around the Old Quarter

In the evening, our tour guide organised a cyclo ride from the hotel to Hanoi’s Old Quarter where we were going to see the water puppets. The Old Quarter was bustling with activity, noise and people. We were cycled down T-Shirt Street, Lantern Street, Spice Street, Hardware Street…. (I went back on Friday to wander around on my own, which was certainly an experience!).

On the way out of Hanoi, I was struck by a beautiful, intricate – and long! – mosaic mural. As a mosaic artist (kind of) myself, I know the work that goes into such an art form. I found out later, it was called the Millennium Mural, was close to 4 km long, and had been a work in progress since 2007, with artists from all over the world contributing. What a feat!

Your turn

Have you ever been so enamoured by a place that you wanted to live there? Comment me below.

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  • Fuck this shit! - Diane Lee July 28, 2016 at 9:48 PM

    […] always wanted to go back to Vietnam since I first travelled there in 2010. I don’t want to be aimless, though, so I’m […]

  • Why I've been quiet of late... - Diane Lee December 28, 2016 at 7:25 PM

    […] Vietnam in 2010, and as part of the tour I was on, we lunch ate at KOTO. I was so impressed, that I vowed to come back one day and volunteer. That day is now. I also wanted to take my life in a different direction because I was stagnating […]


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