Today I got up fairly late and decided I would take a walk through the famed Old Quarter of Hanoi. Here, the streets are composed of crazily narrow “tube houses”, so-called because they are only about 2 metres wide and normally only one or two stories high. Many of them in the area double as homes and shops selling a wide range of products. Many of the streets are dedicated to selling the same kinds of products, something which baffles me as a institutionalised western capitalist! As well as this, many of the goods being sold would have been sold on the same streets more than 300 years ago.
The street on which I’m staying is dedicated to selling ornate artifacts to be used for worship: loads of “gold” ornaments and brightly coloured drapes.
Just before lunch I went to say what is generously described as a museum. It was supposed to commemorate independence of the nation but I think it was really cashing in (although it was free!!!) on the fact that Ho Chi Minh reputedly drafted the Declaration of Independence in the upstairs quarters of the museum building.
In the afternoon after having taken my, now regular, mid-day shower (Two showers a day seems to be a requirement in this climate!!) I took a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, the spiritual centre of Hanoi. It’s a very peaceful place to walk around, just far enough away from the hub-bub of motorcycle beeps to relax a little. It also seems to be where the locals bring their loved ones to gaze into eachother’s eyes beside the water. No loved one’s for me yet – only repeated offers along these lines:
“Scuse me mister; you want lady?” to which I have replied ‘no’ every time.
After my walk, I went home and took a nap (difficult life isn’t it?!) before heading out for dinner. Afterwards I went to a bar and got talking to some cool girls from County Kildare in Ireland. They’re just coming to the end of a year round the world trip, something which is attracting me more and more. (Who needs a job when you graduate anyway?!) I had a few beers with them then retired to my bed. Tomorrow’s plan is to check out the area around Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (where he has been embalmed for public viewing – nice!).