The most famous attraction in
the complex behind the Presidential Palace is Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House,
an integral part of the "Uncle Ho" legend. The stilt house's design is
based on traditional dwellings similar to the ones in which Ho took refuge
during his revolutionary activities against the French. He lived here between
May 1958 and August 1969. There are only two small rooms in the upper level
of the stilt house, a dining room and bedroom and they are supposedly just
as he left them - complete with all his personal effects, including his
pith helmet. The deck under the house was used by Ho as an office and receiving
area for important guests. There are no toilets, washing, cooking or dining
facilities as Ho preferred to walk to a nearby annex building.
Our next stop was the One Pillar
Pagoda -- a little building on a single large pillar in the middle of a
We moved on to explore
the numerous other buildings, gift shops, eateries and gardens in the compound.
There were numerous small elaborate pagodas where visitors had left offerings.
Along the way Bill was stopped by a young man, who for some reason wanted
to take a selfie photo with him - it must have been Bill's Tarzan shirt
that drew his attention :)
We considered making a departure
from our original schedule and taking a taxi to the infamous Hoa Lo Prison
(The Hanoi Hilton) that had been built by the French at the turn of the
20th century, in classical French prison design. The prison was also sarcastically
known as the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War when it held downed
American pilot POWs. American politician and former US fighter pilot, John
McCain, had been imprisoned here for many years. A number of people discouraged
us saying it wasn't really worth the visit since most of the prison had
been torn down and what was left was a propaganda-skewed museum in the
original gatehouse. We had a busy day ahead of us with other commitments
so we decided to pass on the visit. An American friend we met on the tour,
however, was a Vietnam War vet and made the visit. He returned with a photo
of himself sitting on a cot in one of the cells -- a cot that was supposedly
the one used by McCain.
A taxi delivered us back to the
hotel for a rest and meal. We did a bit of Old Quarter shopping and then
prepared to make the trek to the Water Puppet Theatre.