24 hours in the city , just scratching the surface!
Our new guide Quinh collected us from the hotel at 9 am to take us to Ho Chi Min's mausoleum. We were lucky as there was not much of a queue. We solemnly filed past the dimly lit embalmed body of the great man along with many Vietnamese. Our guide said most of his compatriots would visit at least once in their lifetime. Some of us thought he looked like a waxwork. No photos allowed in the mausoleum but outside was okay. Quinh gives us a potted history of Ho Chi Min's life, did you know he worked as a baker in a London hotel?!? And he was widely travelled and did not become leader until he was 51. We had a group photo taken on the parade ground. We went on the the presidential residence which was very interesting. There was a charming simplicity about it. His own home was minimalist. For example he was given a dinning room table but asked for a small white table cloth just for his place setting as he didn't need a full sized cloth for the huge table. The garden complete with a kidney shaped pond was very beautiful. There was also an unusual one legged pagoda.
Next stop was the museum of ethnology where the reproductions of the wooden thatched long houses were interesting to look around. We had to climb up some very rudimentary ladders to get to them. All part of the fun!
In the museum grounds was a restaurant run by catering students who produced delicious and reasonably priced local food. We had a good lunch and a few beers to set us up for the afternoon session.
We took in the temple of literature built in the 11th century as Vietnam's first university where the students go for their graduation photos, some up to two years before taking their final exams! It is an attractive location so I can understand why. On to the history museum where there were some amazing exhibits of stone and wooden carved statues, beautiful inlaid mother of pearl furniture and woven tribal clothing which were the highlights for me. Some of the group were flagging by this stage...... The last stop was the Hoam Kiem lake and the old shops quarter for a walking tour. However the chosen route was not very interesting and many of us were disappointed.
We returned to the Movenpick Hotel where we were to be collected for the journey to the airport. We had a coffee and we're at a bit of a loose end. Brian asked the receptionist for a recommendation for a bar to spend our last hour or so and was directed to the Mercure Hotel roof terrace. When we got there we were told it didn't have one! But a nearby office block did. Turned out it was next door to our hotel! It was worth the perseverance as the views of the city at night were marvellous. We toasted our last night gazing out over the city, just as we had ended our trip to China 10 years previously, the city on that occasion being Hong Kong.
Where would we be toasting in 10 years hence we wondered? 🍾🍾🍾🎉🎉🎉
A lovely finish to an amazing trip and a testament to 10 years of friendship and travel, thank you Christine, John, Rosie and Frank as well as our new friends! 😃😃😃