The Day I Saw Ho Chi Minh

Yep, it’s National Day here in Vietnam. I woke up early this morning, worked on yesterday’s blog posting (hence the wrong date on it) and then switched rooms right after breakfast. Now I’m in a more deluxe room with a balcony overlooking the street. A bit extravagant but what with the free wifi and brekkie it’s still way cheaper than European hotels and about on par with hostels in Europe. Hopefully I’ll have an apartment soon. Still contacting employers but no job yet. Anyways… back to Ho Chi Minh…

After breakfast I met my motorcycle guy out front and off we went to visit the mausoleum. He warned me it would be crowded but I didn’t realize just how long the line was until we were about an hour into it. It snaked around the streets and through a park before looping around and into the mausoleum. All in all it took about 2 hours. At times the line was fat and packed but guards (police? army?) kept order and frequently made people narrow the line down to two abreast. I had to check first my bag and then my camera and electronic goods. Finally we slowly filed in, up some stairs and around the glass sarcophagus in which Ho lay, serene, pale white with his hallmark long whiskers. Apparently every year he is shipped off to Russia for maintenance. The building is air conditioned which was a huge relief as I was drenched in sweat. Numerous people waved fans to help alleviate the heat. As there were people from all over Vietnam I attracted the attention of people who don’t have much contact with foreigners. Lots of kids shyly peaked at me, a few ventured a ‘hello’ which was followed by much laughter. I tower over most Vietnamese so it was easy to see over their heads. We also stopped by Ho’s stilt house, modeled on a typical rural home. He actually probably didn’t live there full-time, as it would have been a prime target for bombers, but he stayed there often enough to make it homey.

Lineup to see Ho Chi Minh
Lineup to see Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh's stilt house
Ho Chi Minh's stilt house

After emerging from the park my xe om (motorcycle) driver and I went for cold coffees near the gigantic West Lake. Pedal boats in the shape of swans crowded both West Lake and its smaller neighbor. Riding the bike was a real relief from the heat. I was exhausted so begged off any further excursion and retreated to my cool cool room.

Later I strolled off for lunch but the oppressive heat drove me back to my room for the afternoon where I spent some time researching job opportunities. I’ve now applied for a job teaching young teens from a commune in a school run by the local brewery! It’s situated 18km outside of Hanoi, which might be nice. They also offer many benefits including, you guessed it, beer. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

And here’s a photo I forgot to post from my first full day here:

Trying out for a job.
Trying out for a job.

The young woman who normally carried this loaded me up, plopped her hat on my head and took a couple of photos. She then deposited a bag of cutup pineapple in my bag and promptly demanded payment. I saw her again later, when I was sitting surrounded by the T-shirt gals, and returned the pineapple to her (I didn’t want to take any chances on its cleanliness). But if I don’t get a job as a teacher I can certainly hoist those baskets above ground level.

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