The Magnificent Mekong Day 18 and Day 19

President was flying into Hanoi today so our plans for the day had to be altered due to security and his itinerary. As we were driving along you could see the American flags flying along with the Vietnamese flags.

We were to visit the Ho Chi Minh Complex but we only were able to drive by it.

Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum was up the hill on the grounds. There already was a line to visit inside where Ho Chi Minh’s body was encased. We were to visit in the afternoon.

We could see the Presidential Palace of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh did not live here but would greet guests. He built a stilt house on the property and that was where he lived.

The late Senator John McCain’s plane was shot down by a missile over Hanoi on October 26th, 1967. He parachuted and landed in Truc Bach Lake which we drove by and saw the memorial to him. President Biden was to visit this memorial later so there were many guards around.

The Hanoi Opera House which was also called the Grand Opera House was erected by the French Colonial administration between 1901-1911. It was upgraded in 1995 and was completed in 1997.

We walked over to there we got on electric carts to ride through the Old Quarter of Hanoi which was very busy but it was a great way to see the area.

Our electric carts

In the Old Quarter of Hanoi there were 36 streets in this neighborhood. It was always busy, many shops and fresh street food. We saw vendors selling items from their bicycles. One street still had jewelry stores, another street was full of festival decorations, and a street sold clothing and material. We passed one street with traditional medicines and herbs.

The Temple of Literature or the Temple of Confucius was founded in 1070 and had been reconstructed. This was dedicated to Confucius and was surrounded by an ancient brick wall and inside was 5 courtyards in different styles.

Temple of Literature entrance

The first courtyard in the temple.

The second courtyard was a symbol of Hanoi.

The third courtyard was a square shape and was also known as the Well of Heavenly Clarity.

The fourth courtyard featured the House of Ceremonies and the Sanctuary to Confucius.

The fifth courtyard was the grounds of the Imperial Academy.

Also housed at the Temple of Literature was one of the two largest “thundering” drums in Vietnam. They were called “thundering” drums because when hitting up they sound like thunder and were very loud.

We visited the Hoa Lò Prison which was nicknamed by the American POWS as the “Hanoi Hilton”. Most of the prison was torn down and what remained was a museum. Most of the exhibits referred to the prison’s use up to the 1950s.

Original prison layout

Can you imagine escaping from this prison through its sewer system? That was what 100 political prisoners did in 1945.

It had displays that focused on the American pilots who were kept there during the Vietnam War or the American War by the Vietnamese.

McCain’s flight suit was displayed and a photo of the Hanoi locals that rescued him out of the lake.

John McCain’s flight suit

The exhibits also showed the American POWs held here were pictured being comfortable in their barracks, which in reality was a place of interrogation and torture. Another photo showed them playing a game and smiling! This area was whitewashed. The Americans held in this prison told a very different story.

There was a memorial and sculpture at Hoa Lo Prison.

This afternoon we visited the Museum of Ethnology. This museum covered the 54 different ethnic groups in Vietnam, the Vietnamese and 53 ethnic minorities.

Museum of Ethnology

Our first stop was the outdoor exhibit area which had replicas of various traditional homes.

Inside the museum were exhibits and displays that depicted the various ethnic communities.

When we left the museum we were stuck in a traffic jam for over 45 minutes because streets were blocked off for President Biden’s motorcade! We finally got back to the hotel in time to freshen up for our last dinner together!

We all met in the lobby of our hotel but the buses couldn’t get to us because the streets were blocked again for the President’s motorcade for a dinner reception. Our buses were close to a mile away so we walked to them from the hotel. As we were walking the motorcade went by!

The traffic can’t wait to be released!

We arrived at our restaurant La Maison Vie Restaurant about an hour and a half late for our farewell dinner. The servers welcomed us and the food was delicious!

On Monday morning we checked out of our hotel and went to the Hanoi International airport to begin our journey home.

We flew from Hanoi, Vietnam to Seoul, Korea. Our next flight was from Seoul, Korea to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our last flight was from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Columbus, Ohio. All three flights were on time and our luggage made it too! We had close connections so we were thrilled to get to Columbus on time and have our luggage arrive too! We had a fabulous trip but we were happy to get home!

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