Trip to Vietnam (2): Hanoi and Ha-Long Bay

I still had to write about the second part of my trip to Vietnam: the capital Hanoi. I did this part of the trip by myself, which has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, traveling alone allows you to do just whatever you want without having to worry about others’ preferences. On the other, sometimes you miss having someone to talk to about the places that you see, and it can even get boring sometimes.

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The One Pillar Pagoda, one of the most well-known pagodas in Vietnam.

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Another must-see is the mausoleum where Ho Chi Minh rests in peace (when tourists allow it).

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At the Hanoi Museum, I came across these children, who given their faces when they saw a foreigner, must have come from some rural area in Vietnam.

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After a long morning of walking around at over hundred Fahrenheit degrees, there is nothing like a Coke and a Vietnamese Pho. There are many Pho restaurants in Seoul, but I must say that the taste of this soup was totally different from what I am used to have in Seoul. You could tell by the taste that the ingredients are much more fresh and natural.

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One of my favourite places in Hanoi is the Hoan Kiem Lake. It was quite close to the hostel I was staying at and I usally ended up my journeys having some drink by the lake. In a city full of motorcycles and hence quite polluted, this is one of the places where you can breath a fresher air.

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It seems that many locals shared my opinion, as the lake shores were always crowded with people sitting enjoying the fresh breeze from the lake.

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The Vietnamese people’s kindness is very well-known. This “taxi” driver did not hesitate to say hi to the camera when he realized I was taking a picture 🙂

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Already in Ha-Long Bay, it is quite common for merchants to approach the boats with tourists offering fruit.

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Ha-Long Bay, from the boat.

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Floating houses in Ha-Long Bay.

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The tour I took included a visit to the Dau Go Cave, one of the many caves in the area, located in the island with the same name.

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The cave was quite impressive. It reminded me of the Caves of Nerja, near my hometown, although I would say the Dau Go is more impressive, maybe because of the lighting that they use, which helps quite a bit.

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Hanoi is quite a messy city, you can feel that even on its buildings’ facades.

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One of the charms of Vietnam is that some times it seems like time did not go by in this country. This picture could very well have been taken hundreds of years ago.

Trip to Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City and Củ Chi Tunnels

Business trips, more work than I can handle, and summer events (pleasure trips) have been keeping me for updating this blog for too long already, for which I apologize.

The revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh gave its name to this city, although still today its old name Saigon is more widely used among locals.

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One of the first things that grab your attention in Vietnam is the amount of motorbikes everywhere.

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There are almost no cars (apart from taxis), but motorbikes are omnipresent.

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The Ho Chi Minh city hall. I was surprised to see many luxury shops near the city hall, specially considering that Vietnam is a communist country. Similarly to Korea nowadays, until 1975 Vietnam used to be separated into a communist North Vietnam and a capitalist (or “less communist”) South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon as it was called then) used to be the capital of this South Vietnam. I guess this explains why the feeling in this city is not so communist.

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Very near the city hall, another very visited spot of the city is the War Memorial Museum. In its gardens you can find war tanks, airplanes, cars, etc. all of them from the Vietnam War.

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The Notre-Dame Basilica reminds visitors that this city was once French territory.

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Some Vietnamese playing badminton next to an American war plane.

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It is also common to find people like this woman carrying stuff to sell on the streets. By looking at her completely deformed shoulder, you could tell that this woman had been doing this job all her life.

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As in most countries in South-East Asia, people spend a great amount of time in the streets enjoying the good weather, shopping, doing sports, etc.

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More people selling stuff outside (they are actually sitting on the road).

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In Ho Chi Minh, I had the chance to meet Oscar, friend of Alberto and also intern at the Spanish Embassy in Ho Chi Minh. Here we are relaxing after a hard day of sightseeing.

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Next day we decided to visit the tunnels of Củ Chi, near Ho Chi Minh. At this place you can see how many Vietnamese lived under the ground during the Vietnam War. In this picture, a Korean boy tries to enter one of these tunnels. They made the entrance to the tunnels so tiny so that American soldiers could not find them, nor enter if they did find them. This curious Korean boy could enter quite easily though.

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War left also many tanks abandoned in Vietnamese fields. After the War, people sold the pieces that they could, like this tank without wheels.

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Of course the engine was also removed.

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At the Củ Chi tunnels you can also see many kinds of traps that Vietnamese used against American soldiers, some of them really hurt only seeing them.

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There are also some tunnels that they have made available for people to enter and experience .

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What could be better than a beer and some Vietnamese food after a hard day of crawling in tunnels?