The Old Quarter of Hanoi is comprised of 36 interwoven streets, many of which begin with the word “hang,” which means “seller,” and then the Vietnamese word for what that street sells: shoe streets, silk streets, spice streets. I checked out the Temple of Literature, Museum of Ethnology, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where the former president is embalmed and on display in a glass case. Hanoi is crammed with tourists and there seems to be an entire industry dedicated to scamming them. Most notably is a majority of the “metered” taxis have fixed their meters to run at twice the approved rate-speed. After witnessing this first hand, I stuck to cyclos (bike carriages) and my own two legs.
I’ve spent the past two days in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). It is a city that is hot, humid, vibrant, and straight-out fun. It is also a city in which I’ve taken to flanking my sides with backpacks, so that only my bags are hit as I circumnavigate the endless fleets of motorbikes in attempt to cross the street. The War Remnants Museum is a must for visitors to Saigon; its 3 stories of exhibits in testament to the years of American-Vietnamese war stayed with me long after I had left the Museum.