Visiting Ho Chi Minh – Hanoi, Vietnam

 

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum

Determined to visit the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the father of communism in Vietnam, my family and I woke up early one morning and set out into the crazy Hanoi traffic to try to find him. As his mausoleum had very limited visitation hours – only a few hours each morning and a few days each week, we hurriedly walked through the pouring rain for over two kilometers before reaching the north gate of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. Unfortunately, the guards at this gate told us that we had to enter the complex from the opposite side, over a kilometer away. As it was fast approaching ten and entry closed at 10:15, we had to rush. Fortunately we made it just in time, and we were through the queue for security screening by 10:10. We were then marched two-by-two in groups of thirty from the security building to the mausoleum. While we were walking towards the granite building where Ho Chi Minh was being showcased, there were guards posted every ten meters, dressed in pure white uniforms – even wearing white gloves and white rain boots. When we reached the mausoleum, I noticed that the path leading up to it was a red carpet, with guards on each side, which I

Guards in Front of the Mausoleum

Guards in Front of the Mausoleum

found odd because I associate a red carpet with royalty. Inside the mausoleum, guards were posted on every corner, increasing in number as we neared the room where Ho Chi Minh was resting. This room was dimly lit, and many guards lined the walls, each holding a rifle with a bayonet. Ho Chi Minh was elevated on an island about 3 meters in height with four guards encircling the base. His hands and head were backlit, giving Ho Chi Minh an unearthly look. His skin showed no sign of deterioration, and it appeared that he was simply sleeping, not dead. Nearing the conclusion of our extremely short viewing of Ho Chi Minh, my mom noticed a nearly invisible screw poking out of his neck. When she stopped to look more closely, a guard aggressively told her to keep moving. In the end, we were only able to view Ho Chi Minh’s body for about thirty seconds, but I thought that that was more then enough time to stare at his embalmed corpse. Overall, I found the whole experience unnerving, the soldiers standing so still – like statues, with their eyes fixed on the walls behind us, and Ho Chi Minh in his eternal sleep.

Note: It is forbidden to take pictures in the mausoleum, and all cameras are confiscated on entry. Knowing this, we didn’t bring our camera and do not have pictures. The pictures here were taken from the internet.

A Dozen Doors

A few months ago, a good friend of ours, Danielle, gave us an art project to complete – photograph a dozen doors from around the world and post them on our blog. After taking pictures of hundreds of interesting and unique doors, Matthew and I selected the dozen that we think captures aspects of each country.

Thanks to Danielle for this awesome art project!

Fortification in Ronda, Spain

Fortification in Ronda, Spain

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Local Residence in Chefchaouen, Morocco

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Local Residence in Fes, Morocco

Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknes, Morocco

Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknes, Morocco

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Local Residence in Marrakech, Morocco

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King’s Palace in Marrakech, Morocco

Karnak Temple - Egypt

Karnak Temple – Egypt

Preah Khan Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Preah Khan Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ta Prohm Temple - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ta Prohm Temple – Siem Reap, Cambodia

King's Palace, Phnom Phen, Cambodia

King’s Palace, Phnom Phen, Cambodia

Citidel Interior in Hue, Vietnam

Citidel Interior in Hue, Vietnam

Citidel Gates in Hue, Vietnam

Citidel Gates in Hue, Vietnam

Our Day on the Mekong Delta – Rice Noodles and Fruit Farms

Rice Grinder

Rice Grinder

Rice, Water and Tapioca Mixer

Rice, Water and Tapioca Mixer

Early one morning, way before the sun had risen, my parents woke Matthew and I up, and told us that we were going to go on a boat tour of the Mekong Delta. We visited two floating markets (see Matthew’s post), a rice noodle factory and a fruit farm.

After we visited the two floating markets, our driver took us to a factory where we learned how to make rice noodles. The first step in making these noodles is to grind dry rice into a powder. Next, water and tapioca are added to the ground rice. The workers will then spread this mixture on a huge piece of heated stretched fabric, similar to the surface of a drum. Rice husks are used as fuel for the fire to cook the rice pancakes, than the ash is sold to farmers to be used as fertilizer on their farm. After the mixture is cooked, another worker will use a big bamboo rolling pin to pick the pancake up, and then place it on a bamboo mat. This cooked pancake is then dried in sun for five hours. Lastly, the dried rice pancakes are pushed through a chopper, which cuts them up into long, skinny rice noodles. Matthew and I both pushed the dried pancakes through the chopper, and then caught them on the other side.

Cooking the Rice Mixture

Cooking the Rice Mixture

Drying the Rice Pancakes

Drying the Rice Pancakes

Catching the Sliced Rice Noodles

Catching the Sliced Rice Noodles

Matthew and I at the Slicing Machine

Matthew and I at the Slicing Machine

 

After we had finished our tour and demonstration of the rice noodle factory, I noticed, near the exit, that there were a bunch of animals in cages. There was a weasel, some chipmunks, two guinea pigs, two hamsters, a porcupine, two bunnies and lots of birds. I thought that this was cruel, as the cages were very small, so the animals didn’t have much space to move around.

 

 

 

Our last stop was a fruit farm. We walked around the farm, and saw many different types of fruit and fruit trees: star fruit, passion fruit, star apple, dragon fruit, pineapple, mango, jackfruit, durian, guava, Vietnamese red plum, pomello, lime, papaya, banana, cacao, coconut, ramatan, and long-green squash. It was the first time I had ever seen some of these fruits growing!

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Five Fruits we Tried

At the end of our visit to the farm, we got to try five different types of fruit that had been grown here: dragon fruit, mango, star apple, papaya and jackfruit. Jackfruit is the stinkiest fruit I have ever smelled! It reeks! I found it really hard to get the jackfruit to my mouth without throwing up. I did try it in the end, and thought that it tasted just as bad as it smelled – terrible! Supposedly durian fruit smells worse, but somehow these seem to be the two most popular fruits in Asia! My best-liked fruit we tried was mango. Unfortunately, my favourite fruit of all time, passion fruit, wasn’t offered for testing!

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Star Fruit

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Star Apple

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Vietnamese Red Plum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coconut

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Cacao Blossoms

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Passion Fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pineapple Plant

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Banana

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Jackfruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lime

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Pomello

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Papaya

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mango

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Drangfruit

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Long-Green Squash