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Hanoi was our first city on this tour of Vietnam. After our twelve hour flight arriving at 6.30 am. We were taken to our hotel which was the Melia Hotel on a bed and breakfast basis. We were meant to be taken for a buffet breakfast. And then an introduction to Hanoi on our trip into the city’s old town by cycle rickshaws. However, I had not slept during the flight during the twelve hour flight and did not fancy the Vietnam breakfast and everyone who came back from the cycle rickshaw tour said that they did not see much as the rickshaws flew around the old town and never spoke to the UK visitors about what they were seeing. I can understand why Riviera Travel put this on as they needed to wait for check in at the hotel. I asked if there was a chance of me buying an early check in. But as the president has died only days ago. Our hotel being the best in Hanoi was booked up with important dignitaries for his funeral the next day. When we finally got our room key, we both spent the rest of the afternoon and night sleeping.
The next day, it was the presidents funeral. So a lot of roads were closed. Which meant getting around the city was a bit of a nightmare for us in a coach and even the locals on the mopeds.
The first place we explored was the imposing marble mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh himself, embalmed and eerily on display. That was such a strange experience. We had to be very serious and not smile or take any photos. The guards took their duty very seriously.
And then we walk around the Presidents palace and gardens, I personally loved the colour but thought that it was a small area.
We then walked to see a buddist temple and the Temple of Literature dedicated to Confucius and Vietnam’s first university.
We were hoping to visit a traditional water puppet show – a real spectacle where, as the name suggests, with the aid of fireworks and music, folk stories are played out by skilful puppeteers. But all this was cancelled due to the presidents death.
These were things I saw when we were travelling through Hanoi to places. Things that interested me. I would have liked more time exploring Hanoi. But felt that our time here was rushed. Overall looking back, my favourite thing in Hanoi was the hotel we were staying in, The Melia Hanoi.
Hanoi’s history is written all over the city. For 800 years since 1010, it was the political centre of Vietnam. But in 1873, the French conquered the city. In 1902, it was made the capital of French Indochina, made up of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, which were all French colonial territories. You’ll see the French influence even to this day. A short walk across will show the city strongly embracing traditional Vietnamese heritage, but the French imprints are undeniable. The Japanese took over the city for five years. In 1945, revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh proclaimed independence from French Indochina and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, more commonly known as North Vietnam, with Hanoi soon declared as the capital. For over 20 years, North Vietnam was a separate state from the south, until they defeated the South in the Vietnam War in 1975. Hanoi became the capital of the reunified Vietnam in 1976. Would I return to Hanoi, I am not sure that I would there are other cities in Vietnam, that I am interested in.