Written by Ally
We are nearing the end of our visit to Vietnam, and the feeling is bittersweet. Though I cannot wait until I return home, I know I will miss much of this environment and culture. Back in the hotel, we started our day at 8am. Mr. Nghi and Mr. Hue met us in the hotel lobby to tour the Mausoleum. Unlike the first time we tried to see Ho Chi Minh, or Uncle Ho (as the Vietnamese refer to him) we advanced in the line relatively quickly. The amount of people there both locals and tourists led me to believe that this is consistently a popular site. The actual room where Ho Chi Minh lay was about five minutes into the building. It was important to stay respectful throughout. If not, the guards were there. They stood at each corner to make sure we followed the strict rules and continued to move - there was no stopping. In a makeshift single-file line, we circle the clear prism that enclosed Ho Chi Minh. The sight was fascinating and sent chills down my spine. The next tour was of his house. We were able to see his work and eating areas, with his actual furniture. Next we made our way to the museum of Ho Chi Minh, but unfortunately Cheri had to leave for the States. We all said our goodbyes. The museum was obviously entirely about Vietnam's former Persident, but none of the information plaques were in English. After that, it was finally lunch. We went all out with iced-smoothies and lettuce appetizers at a restaurant called Koto that filters the ice. The fresh spring rolls that I had longed for for the duration of this trip were finally allowed. Koto's mission is to train street children to work in restaurants and place them in wage-earning positions throughout the city. After the delicious lunch, the eleven of us made our way to the Temple of Literature and Hoa Lo Prison, also known as "Hanoi Hilton." The temple is a dedication to teachers but more specifically Confucious. It was made up of several courtyards, connected by maze-like pathways. As people passed through, they would smudge their names into a box believed to give luck on exams. We took part in that practice. Finally we toured around the prison. It really put into perspective the way POWs lived during the war. Both informing and interesting, the prison served as a good way to end the educational part of our day. I can definitely say that I have learned a great deal about this country and appreciate it in every way.