Monday, May 24, 2010

Hanoi, Vietnam: Part II

After experiencing a near meltdown, I slowly started to pull myself together. I took one deep breath and focused on the floor, as not to let my thoughts wander. I meditated on what had just transpired and looked for the signs. And just then a feeling came over me like a warm blanket, and I started to feel calm and at peace.

What I was experiencing was just a bit of an inconvenience. Plan and simple. Everything that I'd lost, besides a small amount of cash, was salvageable. This was the first time during my 6 months of traveling in Southeast Asia that I had been a victim of theft. That's pretty good if you ask me. Plus, I bare partial responsibility as I had become a bit careless. I shouldn't have exposed my wallet the way I did, and I SHOULD have zipped my pockets.

Once we made it to Bat Trang I called my mother with Jesse's cell phone (how convenient).

"Hello?" said my mother, sounding tired.

"Mom. Hey, it's me, Adam."

"Adam?!" Oh, hi! How are you?! And where are...." sounding ecstatic, before I cut her off.

"Mom, calm down. I'm fine, but I've experienced a bit of an inconvenience. I need you to do something for me, okay?" Everyone in the room began to laugh, as she was on speaker phone. After my mother cancelled my debit card I was able to completely relax and enjoy my time in Bat Trang.

When we returned to Hanoi, Li walked us to the police station to file a report of the incident, something I hope I'll be able to present to my travel insurance. I was glad Li was with us as I wouldn't have been able to find it without her. Plus, no one at the police station spoke any English. Their system was, let's say, a bit archaic. The reports had to be hand written, and since there wasn't a xerox machine, it had to be written about about 6 times (3 in English and 3 in Vietnamese). It took forever! I was so grateful though to have had Li with me, who was, I must say, extraordinarily patient.

The next morning we went to the Ho Chi Minh Museum, hoping to get a better understanding as to why this man is so revered in Vietnam. We left the museum without gaining any new insight about Uncle Ho: the man, the myth...the legend. I still don't even know when the freakin' dude died. The museum is full of obnoxious abstract symbolism, i.e. propaganda. Just reading the brochure for the museum makes me wanna gag. Here are a few lines from it:

"The Ho Chi Minh Museum has been built in accordance with the desire of the Vietnamese people. It is designed to show their deep gratitude to the President's great merits and to express their determination to study and follow His thought, morality and style, to make joint efforts to build Viet Nam into a country of peace, unity, independence, democracy and prosperity, which is friendly to the world's peoples"

"....when the centenary of Ho Chi Minh was celebrated according to the UNESCO Resolution which recognized him as 'a hero of national liberation and a great man of culture'"

"The whole building evokes a stylized white lotus."

"The section on Ho Chi Minh's life and revolutionary cause, an the Vietnamese people's implementation of His Testament..."

I bet the reason why we couldn't find out when Ho Chi Minh died is because the government wants to give the impression that he's not. I mean his image appears everywhere throughout the country. And for Lord's sake, the government has embalmed his body despite that, in his will, he requested that he'd be cremated. Jesse, Sabine and I weren't able to view his body due to the holiday. But I've heard that his body is very well preserved and looks as if he just went to sleep. Very strange.

That night I had dinner with Jesse and Sabine. It was our final night together as they were flying to Thailand the following morning. Tear. It'll probably be the last time I see them on our travels. However, I did tell them I was flirting with the idea in traveling to Europe. If so, I'll definitely see them in Holland (the Netherlands). So, until next time...

Next Stop: Ha Long Bay & Tom Coc, Vietnam


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