Welcome to Hanoi…

Welcome to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam… here’s your 20 cent beer!  Hanoi is the home of the world’s cheapest beer.  I got through about a third of it before I gave up.  Horrific stuff!  But, it’s mind blowing that five people can have one beer each and the total bill is just under a dollar.  If fact, Vietnam is a relatively inexpensive country for Westerners (but don’t tell that to the locals- it’s expensive to them).  I’ve been able to eat lunch/dinner including a soda for around $5.

I find Hanoi to be what I had imagined Vietnam to be like.  The Old Quarter is a maze of narrow streets, restaurants, loads of people and of course honking horns.  In fact, the traffic is just as crazy as Saigon.  Intersections are a free for all and I’m shocked that there are not more collisions.  Even where there are traffic signals, many just view those as merely a “suggestion.”

Yesterday we got back from the amazing Halong Bay.  It was a great day and half.  It included a boat ride through the islands, a delicious lunch, kayaking, and swimming on a deserted beach on Monkey island where it was just us and the monkeys.  Pure bliss! (Well except for the stinging sunburn I’m sporting today.)

Today, I went to the “Hanoi Hilton” as it is called by the American POW’s.  But, in reality it is known as the Hoa Lo Prison.  The prison’s history extends beyond the American prisoners and is a symbol of Vietnam’s struggle for independence from foreign occupation namely the French.  What stuck me most was the amount of Vietnamese women patriots imprisoned there.  I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere in the world where women played such an important and large role in a country’s struggle for independence.

Another part I found interesting was the American POW section.  While the rest of the prison showcased the brutality of the Vietnamese by the French, the American section showed a much different story.  There were pictures of the American pilots cooking and enjoying Christmas dinner, decorating the prison in Christmas decorations, and playing basketball, cards, soccer, billiards.  There were no signs that the American POW’s were ill-treated.  In Cambodia, I caught a little bit of the Republican National Convention where a speaker (I can’t remember who) recalled Senator John McCain’s time spent at the prison.  I was particularly moved by the details and his triumphs while imprisoned there.  It is interesting to learn about both sides and makes me want to learn more about the different perspectives.

Tonight is the official start of the last tour of my trip.  I’ll be in Laos (if you want to impress your friends- the “s” is silent) starting on Tuesday and will be flying home on October 11th.


5 Responses to “Welcome to Hanoi…”

  1. 1 Great Aunt Jackie September 22, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Our 72 year old Priest goes Vietnam every year and is picked up from the airport on a scooter, his concern is that someone will take his knees off!!! Uncle Steve had me some tailor made clothes make overseas. The ones made in Hong Kong fit perfectly, the ones made in Vietnam had no hips. I’m so enjoying your trip!! Love Ya Aunt Jackie

  2. 2 Amy September 23, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Yeah, Stacy is coming home!!!! I will tell Caydence to wait until her Auntie comes home

  3. 3 Enlight September 24, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Stacy, I was reading your post from the beginning of your travels. I am happy you figured out what works best for you. Indeed, everyone has different styles of travel, not one is better than the other.

  4. 4 Kathy September 25, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    YEAH you are coming home. I need help wrapping all the gifts for our Niece.

    Can’t wait to see you and give you a big hug. I can’t wait to hear all the stories face to face.

    Hugs and kisses, luv you bunches. Aunt Kathy

  5. 5 mandy October 3, 2008 at 12:36 am

    ok, ok, ok, i’ve learned so much about the history and culture about all of these places you’ve visited (and pictures), BUT what i really want to know is, WHAT ELSE are you learning about YOURSELF? have you found or experienced extensive enlightenment or inner peace? which country do i need to go to get that? 😉 i’m glad you are making time for the beach and islands of monkeys (ok that sounded so freaking scary to me!) amongst the historical sites. good mix of everything. week and a halfffff……

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Stacy is in West Virginia and totally amazed by the power of Math. (Nerd, I know!)


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