Last day in Hanoi – a bit sad really. I’ll write up my thoughts on the city, and week on in Vietnam, tomorrow. For now, let me just say that Hanoi has quickly propelled itself near the top of my list of favorite cities in the world.
Today was about mopping up a few things I hadn’t gotten around to doing yet. First things first, a trip to the Dong Xuan Market. I hadn’t really grasped the scale of it from the outside – think good sized three story American shopping mall, filled with vendors selling everything from candy and meat to record players and clothing. It’s massive and overwhelming and honestly I didn’t enjoy it very much.
I did enjoy a very nice bowl of pho ga nearby though. Dear god I love the food here. I’ll do a separate food post eventually.
From the market, I wandered up to the home of VietClimb, the only climbing gym in Hanoi. It’s more of a bouldering cave, but I paid for a day pass just to get a few laps in. It was nice to be on the wall, but bouldering isn’t my favorite thing, and doing it in an un-airconditioned 100 degree room is even less fun. Friendly staff though, and I’ll definitely look into their trips if I ever make it back to Vietnam with a climbing buddy.
In the afternoon, I headed to Hoa Lo prison, the Hanoi Hilton. Most of the site is devoted to the rather horrible things the French did when they ran the prison. There are a few rooms dedicated to the American prisoners held there during the war. This part of the exhibit definitely crossed the line from “positive interpretation of events” to “outright mistruths” in a few places. Essentially, you’d come away thinking the American POWs spent their time playing basketball and opening care packages from back home. Interesting none-the-less, and it helps you understand a little bit of why John McCain is such an asshole.
From there, a quick trip to the Temple of Literature rounded out the Hanoi sites.
The rest of the day was more or less devoted to reading and enjoying the city. I sat in a coffee shop overlooking the lake for a while, and then moved to a bench lakeside. Various interesting people sat down next to me to chat – an Indian living in Australia, a Vietnamese student studying to be a teacher, etc. Some good conversation, and enjoyable reading. I love being surrounded by the constant thunder of this city.
Tomorrow, I head to Hoi An. I’m expecting a bit of a touristy mess, but I’m sure it’ll be gorgeous. Thank you for a wonderful week Hanoi.