A Date with Uncle Ho
Trip Start Feb 16, 2010
22Trip End Mar 09, 2010
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Walking up Ly Nam De along the railway, I hurried to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum before they closed at 11am. Managed to arrive at 1015am, sweaty and hot, and made to circle the parade square to the main entrance by the guards, wasting me 20 mins. I realised that they might not let me enter, due to my bermudas but eventually it was ok. Unfortunately the main parade square was out of bounds (I wanted to snap photos here because I lost it) and all cameras were restricted in the mausoleum grounds. In an orderly 2 rows, I felt like we were made to march up the mausoleum. No hands in pockets and no headwear - for respect.
So I finally met Uncle Ho and the viewing was over in less than a minute. The chamber was solemn but grand - dark columns, dim lights and expensive marble stones. Out of the chamber, I had to trek back to the entry checkpoint to retrieve my bag and camera. All the signs indicated that I cannot backtrack but I did it anyway and took exterior photos of the Mausoleum proper. The one pillar pagoda was also in the same vicinity. I spent the next 45 mins at Ho Chi Minh museum, viewing some exhibits of his philosophy. There are some pretty big contradictions to what he wrote against what he did with Vietnam. But thats just my perspective.
Decided to head back to OQ for lunch and found this stall selling bbq meats served in a bowl of sweet dip accompanied with a plate of rice vermicilli. Just dip in the vermicilli - it was really tasty. There was a basket of green vegetables and i decided to to eat that too. At the end of my meal, they simply took my veggie leftovers and returned them to the original basket beside the store...so I was served leftovers but i wasnt surprised. Now I was hunting for USB flash drive, as my storage was getting full. Managed to bargain for 2 x 8gb flash drive at a price of vnd 550 000 (AUD$38). Thought I had a good deal, just hoped that its not a dodgy product.
Had to withdraw cash and found an ANZ teller. Withdrew the max amount of vnd 4 000 000 and I was stupidly carrying around 40 x 100 000 vnd notes in my wallet. Decided to chill out at my fave cafe for a milk shake and write my journal. Back at Prince 1 hotel to upload my photos to flash drive and pickup my laundry. Uploading took ages and was wasting my dinner time before I head for the railway station for my 7pm train to Hue. Got a motorbike ride for vnd 20 000 but he dropped me off at the wrong end of station(abit like Perth's International & Domestic Airport). So it took another vnd 10 000 on another bike to get to my departure gate. No time to stop for dinner, so I grabbed a chicken roll and 2 sausages and was scammed for vnd 50 000.
Got to my cabin and settled in. I was sharing with 4 local accounting grads going to Danang for a vacation and another local lady. The 4 girls apparently bought just 1 soft sleeper ticket and camped out the entire 15 hours journey. But nobody claimed the last bed so they spreaded out comfortably. This train was truly basic and with rubbish strewn on all hidden corners of the cabin. It was still better than a hard seat, even with a used diaper wenched at the light fitting as I tried to catch some sleep.