Hanoi, Northern Vietnam.

Hanoi is noisy, crowded and polluted. There's not a lot to do there though it is quite pleasant to wander around the lake and buildings of the Old Quarter. You do get harrangued by people hawking cheap (photocopied) LP guides, novels, histories, maps and postcards. They are pretty persistent and it can be a bit trying. The hard sell there is the most intense I've encountered anywhere.

Below Right: Army Museum, Hanoi


The strange looking tower with a flag on top of it turned out to be the Army Museum.. Proudly displayed is some wreckage from downed American planes as well as sundry articles of Chinese and Soviet weaponry. The pride in having outlasted the Americans in the conflict they call "The American War" is quite evident if not laid on thick. New Zealand and Australia, among other countries, also sent troops, though in general they operated independently of the Americans. It seems that they considered the US forces to be prepared to take more risks and suffer more losses than what they considered acceptable.

army museum

America does at times appear over eager to sacrifice her sons on foreign fields (jungles, deserts). It is clear that little was ultimately achieved by their efforts in Vietnam at least. (Hard to write a Vietnam report without indulging in a spot of America bashing in the process eh?)

While in Hanoi I also visited Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum. Embalming ex-communist dictators seems to have been all the rage in the 20th century (Mao, Lenin, Stalin) and Ho Chi Minh is no exception. Respectful dress and demeanour is required at all times. You are politely requested not to take guns or explosives into the mausoleum. Fortunately I'd left all mine ack at the hotel. Uncle Ho looked pretty good, for a thirty year old corpse. Castro may have it coming.....