Friday, July 15, 2011

M-I-N-E Game

Just an array of photos of people after saying the "M" word

Our Final Day in SE Asia

We are nothing if not ambitious!  Despite the late crazy night, and the fact that the tour is officially over, we decided to get up at 8 am and be productive on our last day in SE Asia.

We met Matt and Claire downstairs and headed over to the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh.  This is an example of communism at its finest.  Basically all of Uncle Ho's wishes were defied for the “betterment of the state” when this huge memorial to him was created, and his preserved body was put inside on display.  While there, pants and covered shoulders are mandatory.  The line is kept very strictly, there are no cameras allowed in, and there is no laughing, smiling, or joking allowed.

After we were hustled through the mausoleum, we headed next door to the Ho Chi Minh Museum.  There was a lot of very interesting information, but also A LOT of propaganda.  On the way out, we saw the reconstruction of the one pillar pagoda, which is a pagoda built on one pillar.  It was underwhelming to say the least.

The next stop on our day tour was the Hoa La Prison, also refered to as the Hanoi Hilton.  We had a CRAZY cab ride over there (he handed me the wheel for a bit) but then we got ripped off for the first time in SE Asia.  After some bullshit excuse about different cab companies having different meter rates, we begrudgingly paid and left.  Lesson learned, negotiate rates beforehand.

The Prison was very interesting.  Again there was a lot of propaganda as they demonstrated how vile and poorly the French treated the Vietnamese in the prison, and how wonderfully the Vietnamese treated the American POWs during the war.  The highlight of this stop was definitely seeing John McCain’s flight suit from when he was taken prisoner during Vietnam. 

After the prison we walked along the lake front for a bit, bought water puppet show tickets, and then went to a island pagoda on the lake.  It was nice, but the Oreo cookie shrine threw us off a little bit. 

Being so early, it was time for adventure.  We wanted to taste some dog.  We went to an area that was recommended to us and actually found some. [We are told that dogs are bred here to be eaten, the way we would breed cows].  This became our first major failure of the trip, as a communication breakdown made it too hard purchase a tasting and not an entire spit roasted dog.  Although a little upset that I didn’t hit all my crazy food conquests, it was probably for the best considering the long plane ride to come. 

After a long stroll through the market streets and the French Quarter, we headed to Thai Express for lunch, in order to begin the transition back to western style restaurants and food.  Kind of randomly, we ran into Paul and Whitney there too.

After lunch we hit the hotel quickly to pack up our stuff, and along the way ran into Martina.  We organized a 3:00 outing to the World Famous Vietnamese Water Puppet Show.  Matt, Claire, Martina, Kirsten, Jourdan, and myself all headed over to the extravaganza.  We were happy to see Paulo and Whitney joined the soiree too.  It was interesting, and we tried to comprehend.  We were also a little bit rowdy.  Good times.  The only real way to describe it is, puppets on water.  Haha.  Cultural diversity at its finest.

Afterwards, we all headed for a drink to try to comprehend what we had just seen.  We said some final final goodbyes over a drink and ice cream, then Jourdan and I grabbed our bags and headed off to the airport to begin our 27 + hour trip home. 

Please Notice the Pussy Foot on the Virgin Cocktail Menu

It feels very weird to be going back to real life, and we will definitely miss our new friends and the group mentality.  The good news is, we have already started planning to get together next year for another big trip, this time in South America!!! J