24.03.2008 - 26.03.2008
I'm posting from KOTO, a not-for-profit cafe in Hanoi, while drinking a mango lassie. So life's OK.
1. Uncle Ho's Mausoleum. A rip-off of Lenin's. No talking, smiling, hands in pockets. Due solemnity, as if approaching a god. Rather over the top in a secular state. Felt sorry for the guy, actually. He wanted to be cremated. Instead, he lies there looking unwell (not surprisingly) and thoroughly orange.
2. Museum of Ethnology. Great, but I'm peopled out; 54 or so ethnic groups in VN.
Tonight: water puppetry.
Got to Hanoi last night after a 13-hour bus journey from Lak Sao in Laos. Needless to say, I was not in a very good mood. The mountains near the border were lovely, but the run along the coast from Vinh was boring and ugly. VN is heavily industrialised in comparison to Laos, which is not surprising: VN is about 50% richer than Laos per capita (purchasing power parity) and growing at about 8% a year.
Lak Sao is a new town on the border, a seven-hour ride from Vientiane. Claimed population: 50,000. Visible population: 3. A hole, whose entertainments are solely ironic.