Read about our previous stroll through the French Quarter of Hanoi here.
Crossing the Hazardous Roads in Hanoi
Next up was a grand challenge of crossing a big junction, which by then had filled with vast numbers of motorbikes and mopeds. We had read somewhere that to cross the road you just had to start walking and not turn back or stop. While Jerome and I were more adventurous and tried the trick (it works), Chris held back and waited for a completely clear road. Glad to have finally made our way across three roads we bought a cool drink from one of the little corner shops. Skirting the Old Town of Hanoi along the road that would eventually lead us to the Ho Chi Minh Complex, we crossed the train tracks. The railways in the city runs straight past people’s front doors and I remembered that the sight of the train going along the tracks was recommended as an experience one should not miss when in Hanoi. I told Chris that we had to be back there for 15.20 latest to watch the daily train run by.
Visiting the Military History Museum
The brick flag tower, located on the grounds of the Military History Museum (aka the Army Museum) was soon soared over the houses and trees. Stepping inside the entrance gate, Jerome immediately spotted a Vietnamese fighter jet, which was proudly displayed in the courtyard and even had its own protective roof against nature’s forces. A group of children was posing in front of the plane for photos. I am quite open to admit that I am against any kind of warfare and wars in general, however when visiting a country that has suffered considerably over the last hundred years in war against several countries and fighting for independence, I felt that trying to get an insight into the history of these conflicts and the horrible sufferings would be an important insight for any child and us included. We all think of the war with the US in the 1960s and 70s but the Vietnamese have been defending themselves from regional and colonial invaders for 1000s of years.
The Flag Tower
We started with the old canons rusting beneath the flag tower. The brick tower used to be part of the Imperial Citadel, which lies adjacent to the museum. Climbing the stairs to the nationalist flag tower, built in 1800, we got a panoramic view from the terrace of the surrounding war equipment. It was a shame that the stairs to the top of the tower were closed off as it would have been an amazing view from the top, for sure.
Tanks, Planes and Helicopters
Upon closer look, the vehicles had been left to rust and break apart over the last decades. Jerome was still impressed to see a real sized tank, fighter planes and helicopters. Among the machines was the wreckage of an American bomber, standing on its nose amidst crumpled wreckages of other US planes.
More War Equipment
Towards the back of the buildings we found more tanks and planes, mostly Vietnamese and American. They might be of interest to war aficionados, nevertheless they left us cold and we were glad to leave the museum. We definitely gained some knowledge about the dark history of Vietnam, it somehow failed to capture our attention though and we were glad to move on.
Fun Times in Lenin Park
Understandably our mood was slightly downcast after visiting the Military Museum. Opposite the museum’s entrance stands the commanding statue of Lenin and Jerome spotted some kids whizzing past the famous communist in battery-powered cars similar to the ones we had seen by the lake earlier. Except this time one of the older children zoomed by on what looked like a hover board with a custom made cart in front. I could see Jerome’s eyes light up at the sight of the boy – he has always been a bit of a speed addict. After checking with the man hiring the boards we paid 2 USD for half an hour to give Jerome a break from sight seeing.
It took him a moment to work out how the hover board worked and off he went with a smile on his face. The other boy started to race him in a circle around the little park. Chris and I took a seat on the little plastic stools and watched the Vietnamese city life go by. At some point the woman took two of the cars that needed recharging and loaded them onto the back of her scooter. We watched in awe and could not quite believe what we saw when she zoomed off without the cars even strapped down. She expertly weaved herself into the traffic and was gone…
After Jerome had emptied the batteries and secured a small wound to prove his speed, we headed back across the busy road for some more culture, this time the ancient Imperial Citadel.
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