This northern city was at the end of its monsoon season so we were treated to drizzles and, sometimes, hard rains, during our visit here, but we were undeterred by the dampness. Our umbrellas sheltered us pretty well and our wonderful Keen shoes dried quickly after a splash through puddles. The sections of Hanoi we visited were very attractive and showed no signs of bombing scars or general neglect of any kind. Most of the architecture we saw was French, if fairly modern, and Buddhist in flavor, if ancient. It was only when we drove out of the city towards to the east and Halong Bay that we saw what is typical Vietnamese style residential architecture.
H O C HI M INH M AUSOLEUM
Appropriately enough, our first outing was a visit to Ba Ding Square where stands the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. There are numerous steps up to the portico framed by large, overbearing columns. We were lucky in that we did not have to pay an obligatory visit to Ho himself because his body was in Moscow at this time undergoing “corpse maintenance” whatever in the world that is. There were several hortatory signs around the Square which Lan told us were slogans and exhortations to be “like Chairman Ho”—that is moral and industrious and dedicated to the state! We observed ladies in conical bamboo hats and ao dais sitting in the grassy areas hand pulling weeds.
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