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Uncle Ho and His Peeps

day 1: ha noi

overcast 38 °C

Greetings all from Vietnam. Here has been my last day:

- Arrive in Ha Noi, take taxi 45 minutes for $10, my first introduction to Vietnamese traffic. Honestly, I thought Korean traffic was bad.

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- Learn that in order to cross the street, you must walk slowly and you can go at any time. Looking both ways does not help you here. If you wait for a break in traffic, you will be waiting all day. You must simply have faith that the bajillions of motos and bikes will not run you down. Follow a local when possible.

- Not many white people go to see Ho Chi Minh's (Uncle Ho's) remains in his mausoleum. I waited in line with about thousands of people and saw MAYBE 5 whities the whole time. What I also saw was everyone and they mama staring at me. One lady even took her daughter's hand and forced her to touch my arm. Another lady carried her baby up to me and forced him to say "hello." After a while, the people would tire of this until I had to get out of line to check a bag or camera, then I would be around a whole different crowd. I'm white. Man, am I white.

- Uncle Ho was pretty good looking for an old dead guy. He's pretty well-preserved. His corpse is taken to russia for 2-3 months out of the year for "restoration."

- The beer here is really cheap and REALLY GOOD. Ok, I don't know how it goes by Western standards, but I have had nothing to drink in the past year but Cass, Hite, OB, and Prime. These beers suck. And they're not that cheap. For a nice big bottle of Bia Ha Noi or Tiger, it's about 14,000d. The exchange rate to dollar is 16,100d = $1. hoo-de-hoo.

- The funnest thing in the whole wide world is sitting on the back of a moto taxi (xe om) going through the crazy traffic. Once you get past the initial shock and fear....and shakes that I had the first time (could have just been the engine). But it only costs 20,000d pretty much no matter where in the city you go. Let me tell you, that's my favorite part so far.

- White people sweat. A lot. I learned this in Korea, but it has been reinforced in Vietnam, where it is much hotter and there is no aircon to speak of. I brought two pairs of pants and three shirts. I am bitterly screwed.

- Vietnamese coffee is amazing. And it costs less than 50 cents. Dag!

Tomorrow evening I am taking the night train into Sapa, which is just south of the Chinese border in the mountains. I'll spend Thursday night with a host family and a guide, trek around Thursday and Friday during the day, and spend the night on a train Friday night. Meals included, train tickets included, only $70, which is really good for a single traveller. Tonight I think I'ma go to a water puppet show.

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Communist propaganda be damned, Vietnam is great!

(PS - There are so many Spanish people here! I can't get away from it! Which would be cool except I'm lame, and it's all old married couples anyway.)

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Posted by lrbergen 02:39 Archived in Vietnam

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Hey Lyndsey,
Keep the commentary coming. I am very interested to hear about what and where you are going in Vietnam. Have a great time and just chill and relax 24/7. You have earned it girl!!!!!1

by scouser107

hey! vietnam sounds great! can't wait until i arrive within the next 2 months. Can I ask how much it is costing you per dat in VN??

by philo

You express your joy of travel really well. All the best.

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