In between shopping, massages,
drinking dining, attempting to cross the road and more shopping on the other side, we manage to squeeze in a few sites in Hanoi…Four women – could you expect less? We also don’t seem to stray far from our hotel, conveniently located on Hang Gai, which houses several upscale boutiques and many silk shops. The favorite: Tan My (where ‘we’ went at least once twice a day). We found many more small shops worth a stop inside for some air conditioning browsing along Hang Trong and near the Cathedral in the Old Quarters, finding cute clothes, accessories, etc…
We walk to the Hanoi Hilton prison (Hoa Lo Prison)** infamous in the U.S. for holding John McCain prisoner for several years (his stuff currently hangs on the walls inside) and for a certain incident with Jane Fonda. It was originally occupied by Vietnamese prisoners during the French rule and later by POWs from the ‘American War’ (you know, the war we refer to as the ‘Vietnamese War’). The most interesting part of the prison is the information which is written from a Vietnamese perspective (obviously). I enjoy reading the commentary from the Vietnamese perspective which mostly focuses on the French and American Imperialism (their words, not mine). Some things just never change – Kate’s always getting us in trouble…. Then mom and Kit are kicked out of a temple for not covering their shoulders (ladies, ladies, ladies – tsk tsk…)To improve our knowledge we head to the Temple of Literature along with thousands of students all praying for luck on their upcoming exams.
cocktails and ice-cream dinner mom and Kit jump on a pedi-cab, ‘for the experience.’ Kate and I beat them on foot but we can hear their laughter all the way down the street.
A few other sites were snuck in, in between our busy social calendars: One Pillar Pagoda, slightly over-hyped in guide books but it’s a convenient walk from other sites like the Botanical Gardens (small, but wonderfully void of motorized vehicles and the constant chorus of honking) and Ho Chi Minh museum which we walked, um, around, literally.
Too much site-seeing needed to be compensated by lunch at the Sofitel and an afternoon of massage therapy (where we discovered that four hands are better than two) before hitting the streets for more shopping…it’s a hard life!