Worked on the Blog
Working on my blog was the theme of my week in Hanoi and my excuse to stay put for so long. With technical glitches conspiring to prevent me from posting photos or much else, I could have stayed indefinitely. But I did write – what you are reading now.
Watched the Rain
I watched the rain pound off the pavement – the first time sitting on a little stool offered to me by two Vietnamese girls taking cover under an awning. The rain was fierce, and we watched saran poncho-wrapped people on motorbikes and bikes make their way past through the water. Later in the week at another couchsurfing event we watched the restaurant owners whip into action to clear their tables and items from the sidewalk before the torrents came down, and then we watched the rain. People were using large patio umbrellas to cross the street, and one guy had a huge rectangular umbrella several meters long. Rivers started to form on either side of the street, and turning back into the restaurant we saw it was raining inside – water pouring down around the stairway, with containers filling up faster than they could be replaced, and streams running down past our table, soaking the bags on the floor.
Went to Hoa Lo Prison
I felt compelled to do at least some sightseeing in Hanoi, so in addition to the obligatory Water Puppet show (wooden marionettes in water – nice, but not riveting) I went to visit the prison. The Hanoi Hilton, as it is otherwise known, is where Vietnamese political prisoners were held during the occupation by France, and where American pilots shot down in the Vietnam war resided – apparently treated much better by the Vietnamese. The small rooms with leg irons and no sanitation looked like a miserable existence for the Vietnamese captives, some of whom were put to death by guillotine. The American pilots on the other hand were captured in photos showing them playing volleyball, watching a movie, receiving souvenirs on departure. Former Presidential candidate and Senator John McCain was among those detained during the war – his uniform and a number of photos are on display, including one taken during a return visit in 2000. It was an interesting glimpse into some of Vietnam's storied history. A country that has never been defeated in war.