Friday, August 31, 2012

[HANOI] An Afternoon Stroll, Part 2

Luckily, Bookworm wasn't that big. It's just a small hole in the wall kind of shop but has an impressive collection of used and unused books that got me busy but not for more than an hour. The time I spent to walk there actually took more time. There's another lake, this time bigger and situated up north. I passed by more interesting stores en route and still couldn't shake off the Quiapo vibe. Once in a while you find some stalls and buildings with large Vietnamese labels that seem familiar yet unintelligible. This is one of the amusing things about this language. It gives you the illusion that you know it because of the Latin alphabet used, until you ask a local to pronounce something and then you wonder how the heck they ended up with such a spelling convention. And of course, the diacritics! How intimidating could those squiggles be!

Back on topic, the whole day was once again spent walking. Yahoo! No other thing to do here, okay. I already saw water puppets in Ho Chi Minh, so seeing another one here seemed like a desperate excuse to do something touristy. Walking is fine. Getting to know the neighborhood on foot is not a bad idea. It gives you a genuine feel of the city, like, seriously. Oh, were we talking about the lake? Well, the lake yesterday was more impressive than this one here in the north which seems more like a brown reservoir without much activity. I saw someone on a giant duck automobile thingy though! So Enchanted Kingdom! Anyway, there is one side of the lake lined with apartments for rent. I suddenly had visions of me living there until I asked myself why. No, I do not plan to relocate to Vietnam, thanks. However, if that ever happened, at least I know where to find a place to rent!

After the mini-excursion to Bookworm, I decided it was time for lunch. Or maybe, my growling stomach decided it was time for lunch, except that the fancy restaurant opposite the bookstore had an inexplicably long siesta which had to be communicated to me with our favorite game of charades. Damn, I was hungry, but I still had to walk. I finally found an open-air-café facing a big church a few blocks away from Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. Late lunch! I ordered grilled pork which turned out to be glorified longanisa skewered on a stick. I enjoyed the Vanilla Milk Shake, though. The heat was just unbearable! As I finished lunch, I observed passengers on a bus and finally let go of the thought of trying to ride one. No, that won't be so ideal. Charades with people in a rush inside a cramped bus? It seems really difficult so I just decided to walk some more.

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum area is the place to be if you just want to be the typical tourist. This is their Rizal Park. Their Dataran Merdeka. Their Sukhbaatar Square. While the mausoleum takes center stage, other tourist draws surrounding it seem more interesting. The presidential palace comes to mind. With a rather large fountain spewing water non-stop, it seems to be the perfect photo-op, until one of the guards approach and warn you that it isn't allowed. Damn that. Fine, we understand the security issues, but I really felt bad that I wasn't able to snap a picture of that lovely mansion. I got it on video though but only for a few seconds. Fine then, I will just take advantage of the mausoleum. Or not.

The sun was mad and taking a good photo was really hard to do given the bad angle and the fact that you'll be frying in your own sweat due to the sweltering heat. Too bad because that mausoleum is, like, the best camwhoring spot shouting “I was in Hanoi!!!” Oh well. A museum and a pagoda are a few steps away but because it was a Friday, the museum was closed. As for the pagoda, it stands on one pillar, thus, the name. Cute. With nothing left to do, I walked some more until I reached the Temple of Literature area. I no longer entered the temple grounds, which was so not me because I do love temples, but that day I just felt detached. By the way, I saw Goethe Institut Vietnam on the way to the temple. Nothing, just saying!

I ended my two-day Hanoi stroll at the old citadel near the park dedicated to Lenin. I enjoyed walking around Hanoi somehow, especially today because I got to see more interesting landmarks! And that concludes my Hanoi trip. Boring?

2 creature(s) gave a damn:

Ian | GoingRoamingWandering said...

So who has more landmarks.. HCM or Hanoi? There seems to be few in hanoi..

ihcahieh said...

@Ian - Depends, there are many in Hanoi, but it is almost the same case in HCM. What I liked about Hanoi though were the many parks and walking areas.

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