During this time we spent a lot of time with our friends Thao, Tham, and Ahn, as well as Thao’s sister and friend and her cousin Thuy, who was our guide for an afternoon. Saw some sights including Ho Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Literature (Vietnam’s oldest university founded in 1066), a traditional water puppet show, and the Ho Chi Minh Museum. The Museum traces his life as a nationalist fighting against French rule prior to WW II, the Japanese during WW II, the French again after WW II up until 1954 (the First Indochina War), and the Americans from 1955 through his death in 1969, though the American War (the Second Indochina War) did not end until 1975. It is a sobering thought to realize that during this entire span of about 35 years there was more or less constant warfare in Vietnam. I can’t imagine what life was like for this generation of Vietnamese people.
Our friends treated to a wide variety of delicious street and restaurant food. To me Vietnamese food is characterized by lots of complimentary textures and tastes. It’s much like Thai food, without the intense chili heat. So far we have not come across anything we did not like.
Traffic in Hanoi is unimaginably dense and chaotic. Youtube has lots of clips of the famous and epic Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City traffic jams, so check a few of them out.
Hanoi streets are similar to being in a giant blender with motor bikes, people trying to cross the streets, and bicycle rickshaws. Everyone moves with a sense of clarity as people, bikes, cars, and vendors weave their way in no particular pattern and with no particular rules except for to move forward at a predictable pace so that distance can be correctly judged in order to pass between people and objects. There are a lot of horns and general noise that mixes with the sound of Asian music and the smells of diesel smoke, and wonderful street food. The Vietnamese people are always polite through all of this commotion and smiles are plentiful.