Home to 7.5 million people, with 9 million motorbikes. Here they have no dimmer switch, you either drive with a face mask or with a cigarette pursed between your lips. The streets have a frenzy to them, not like India where cows roam and feast on piles of trash, but it’s still chaos.
The pavements teem with parked bikes, forcing the towns folk and tourists to walk on the street and negotiate the traffic. Bisecting the city is the Red River which carries the pink soil from the Chinese mountains.
The Capital city is home to the Mausoleum which houses Ho Chi Minh lying in state. Ho Chi Minh declared the city’s independence from the French here in 1945 and lived here until the time of his death. He lived alone, no kids, no wives.
“He was gay for sure, but no one talks about it,” the missus says in line to the citadel, a line that not only goes around the block, but runs serpentine round many streets. We google ‘Ho Chi Minh gay’ and open up a dark web worm hole where we spend the next ten minutes scouting gay bars in Hanoi.
Ho Chi Minh didn’t want all this fuss. During his life he wrote poems, defeated the French and trained his carp by clapping on a bridge over his pond. It was after his death that the people demanded his martyrdom.
My stomach was in knots. The heat here is enough to fold a man into many pieces, the queue wasn’t moving and Christ knows where you could take a shit around here. People travel the world to see Hoi Chi Minh lying in state, ironically it would only be him and I that didn’t want to be here.
We left the queue, I went back to the hotel and spent the day in and out of sleep, in a moat of my own sweat.