Hanoi was chilly and drizzly, around 12 degrees so for the first time in a month we had to get the coats out again. We had booked a cheap hotel near the church in part of the old city, which worked out ok, although our taxi driver from the station clearly had a rigged meter, but its difficult to argue especially when they drop you in the middle of a mad street.
With only a few days left in Hanoi we wanted to see the sights, principally Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and a couple of museums. So we spent all day walking and looking around. The museum was average, and so out of date in terms of style that it was amusing. Needs a refresh please, those museum designers reading this.
We couldn’t get into the mausoleum due to the opening hours, so we went back at 8am the next day. Its a very formal affair, no cameras or phones allowed. You walk very stiffly with hands out of your pockets, and no hats. The special army guys watch your every move, and you follow the white line very carefully. You file round the room where he lays, but you cannot loiter as they move you along, and there he is, looking very embalmed . He is seen in such a reverential light that the lady behind was sobbing. An odd experience but worth the early start. Considering he liked living the simple life and wanted to be cremated we are not sure he would appreciate what has occurred.
We also dropped in at the womans museum which has an excellent floor dedicated to their role in the wars. It is in a surprisingly modern building and worth the visit.
Hanoi feels very different to Saigon, lots more cars and quite a few more top end vehicles like Bentleys and Range Rovers. There also is a more organised rubbish collection than most other cities, less shines and altars in shops and restaurants. The old city is more compact and has tightly meshed congested streets. It feels dirtier and more dusty than Saigon.
The lake in the middle looks nice, and many wedding couples go there to get their picture taken. Not a very personal moment as everyone watches.