Today was mostly a bunch of nothing, really. It started out well. The storm (which raged for an hour last night before just turning to rain) was gone and the rain had abated, so I headed out, wanting to be at the Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) by the time it opened at 8. I didn’t get lost and I felt very confident weaving on and off the sidewalk, avoiding parked motorbikes and Hanoians sitting eating breakfast in front of the street stalls on the sidewalk and avoiding active motorbikes and cars off the sidewalks. It was very empowering and I felt like I was getting the hang of this city. I made it to the prison at 7:59 am. Perfect!
The prison itself is eery, creepy, and even a little frightening. You could feel the oppression. There was a lot of propaganda, but that didn’t detract from the somberness of the building. The French built it for political prisoners in the 1800s, and it was hard to spend an hour there, let alone years.
After that, I wandered around the Old Quarter, and I didn’t get lost in the tangle of streets! It was fun.
It drizzled on and off throughout my morning adventures (as it has through all of my Vietnam adventures so far), but I was ready for more. I needed to head back to my hotel to check out, and once I was checked out, I was going to head out again. Well, it started pouring. And it poured from 11:30 until just a little bit ago (5 pm), so I didn’t want to get that wet. I’ve been out in the drizzle and out in the rain for the better part of three days, and I just didn’t have the wherewithal to head out in a downpour if I didn’t have to.
My hotel has a nice lobby, so I parked myself at a table (pic below) and wrote by hand in the wonderful Vietnam travel journal the lovely Mary got me for my birthday. When I was done with that, I read. I kept checking the weather, but it just never let up when there was time to do something! Now it’s abated, but I need to leave for the train station soon for my overnight train to Hue (14 hours!!!) so I’m staying put. The manager, Huong, has been wonderful ever since I checked in Tuesday night, chatting with me every time he’s seen me over the last few days, and he’s told me to make myself comfortable for as long as I want because Vietnam is my home. 🙂
So, in a little bit I’ll be off on my next adventure, the overnight train. Feeling nervous about that! But excited to escape the north’s rainy season and enter the central portion’s dry season. It’s supposed to be 105 tomorrow with a heat index of 120 in Hue, so I may change my tune! I don’t have any tours scheduled tomorrow, so I can deal with the heat as I need to. I want to take a dragon boat ride on the Perfume River and visit a famous market, but that’s it. The next day will be a full one, seeing Hue’s sites (which are very spread out) from the back of a motorbike!
Wish me luck on this overnight train thing! 🙂