ho chi minh statue
today we saw uncle ho. really we saw him in his own flesh…. embalmed of course. at the ho chi minh mausoleum, you stand in this thick long line for about thirty minutes and you swiftly move along the outside until you reach the ‘lotus building‘ what looks like a square with pillars, and you silently enter in and weave around to where he rests…. a big, ornamental, glass coffin, resting with his hand layed upon his chest, ‘peacefully sleeping’. you walk steady around and past him as well as the 6 manikin-like guards beside him, and then out you go. through this there’s no pictures, bags, anything – you check all that in. it’s a free sight, as many pilgrimages here often are. pretty crazy, don’t know how often we’ll see something like that in our lives. uncle ho wanted to be cremated, but after his death, his followers thought only fit to follow suit of lenin and stalin and embalm him…. crazy stuff.
after this we had our first real pho experience. this one was pho bo (beef noodle soup, at least we hope, as we did see more fido being offered just up the street, in a real restaurant in the open )…. the grandma, lookin pretty damn old, sat us down and with no words exchanged. we saw her grab a wad of raw minced beef, throw it in a woven basket spoon, hold it in the boiling water, then dump it atop rice noodles with fresh chives, pepper , salt, and poured over a broth, and then placed these plentiful bowls in front. that was good enough for us, we thought…. then she grabbed a plate of chicken, a plate of spring rolls and meatball things, a bowl of fresh greens (mint, coriander, lettuce), a jar of garlic, and a spicy soy sauce concoction, and began serving away…. she took much of each and dipped it in one sauce and then threw it all on top of our bowls…it was actually outrageous. so much food and flavors and really good – as long as you didn’t look too close as what was in the meatballs or the spring rolls…..i’m sure it was all okay to eat ; ) chased down with two room temp canned heineken, and quite a meal. we seriously felt like we were hansel and gretal at the candy house, she would NOT stop giving us chow… after we got across we couldn’t eat anymore pho, she had her sweet smiley granddaughter clear our plates… then the bananas came out and the hot tea… we just couldn’t get enough i guess. by this time jeff and i are cracking up at how she just won’t let down… but we know, there’s gonna be a price to it all. and of course, she then asks for $200,000 dong (15 bucks about….) and we’re like hell no. we figured it probably should have been around 80,000 dong, so we left her 100,000 and walked away with her shouting at us. we passed by her again later and waved and it was all smiles…
after pho time, we went to the temple of literature, the 1st school in vietnam, built in 1075 i believe. very cool old buildings and beautiful property.
vietnam doesn’t seem to have much if any copyright laws. the book says it’s in the works but, for now, anything goes. so what this means is if you have one successful restaurant, hotel, tour company, store of any kind, there will be at least 10 copy cats anywhere, even if it means all 10 are lined up right next door. it’s hilariously frustrating when you’re looking for the right one, or just trying not to go in circles when, around every corner, you see the same names…. if we’re looking for something out of the book then we just make sure the addresses really match up. and speaking of books, we bought two: lonely planet vietnam and mr. nice (aussie book), and both are photocopies! the covers are photocopied on hard back so you would never know… its crazy out here!
the 'pho' shebang
tomorrow we head to halong bay for 3 days on a junk (boat) and to stay on an island…. should be cool! the weather is warm to cool with a slight mist, so it’s almost perfect. the first day we didn’t have any mist and it was perfect, but still, the mist is just that, there’s no wind, so calm seas should lie ahead….
xxxoo jeff and stacy
pho grandma and prodigy
temple of literature enterance
music video being filmed
freaky giant turtle