After a couple of incredible weeks in Hong Kong, we now find ourselves in Hanoi, Vietnam! We arrived late last night, had a scare with our visas (they require payment in cash but don’t have an ATM before passing through customs. Who does that?!?), and made it to our hotel for the next four days.
Right away, our concierge was recommending places for us to go eat. I know that I like pho from around Atlanta, so I was particularly excited to try it out in Hanoi and see what it’s like from Vietnam. We got up early, had breakfast at the hotel, and set out to see some of the sights of Hanoi.
The first things we went to see were two national history museums. Because most of the city closes for midday, we actually only got to see one, and we opted for the museum of revolutionary history. It started with an entire floor dedicated to how terrible the French are, and ended with an entire floor dedicated to how terrible the Americans are. It was pretty cool to see the history of the country from ~1830 up until today, and most notable was the sudden jump in military technology. Prior to 1945, the only weapons on display for fighting French colonialists were sticks and swords. Suddenly, in 1946, heavy machine guns and artillery showed up. The entire museum was telling a very one-sided account of history, however, and decided not to mention how this massive leap in technology came about.
After the history museum, we went over to see the Hoa Lo prison. Again, we were presented with a rather one-sided view of history. The French built the prison to oppress political dissidents and living conditions were miserable and cruel, but the Vietnamese turned it into a very hospitable and comfortable environment for American POWs (who were even given resources to celebrate holidays that Vietnamese couldn’t afford to celebrate! How kind!). I kept expecting to find some sort of account of what actually transpired, but none was forthcoming.
Finally, we rounded off the day of exploration by trying some pho from Hanoi, and I was not disappointed. It was absolutely incredible, and I can’t wait to try other types of Vietnamese food while we’re here. We did notice that our food smelled rather different than it tasted (it smelled awful), and have yet to find an explanation for that. Odd smells aside, I am excited to see what else the city has to offer, and try more amazing foods!