Friday, November 23

Vietnam-Cambodia, Day Seven: Jummah

I've written before about how anal I can be about attending Jummah, no less so while on holiday. I think the world is now such a cosmopolitan place that a Muslim would be hard pressed to find a place to attend the Friday congregation, but I particularly try to make it while on holiday for purely ummahtic reasons. I've met more than a few friends and swapped more than a few stories during my random Jummah experiences. And this is why we found ourselves in Hanoi after starting in Hoi An - not the most efficient way to travel in Vietnam, but as Hoi An didn't seem to have any accessible mosques we had to be in Hanoi second.

Nevertheless an actual Jummah really only takes up a couple of hours of the day. To make the most of our time then we again started the day early in order to get as much done as possible before lunchtime. This was pretty well planned as we managed to mop up the mausoleum (which, ironically, was closed to viewings on a Friday), checked out Ho Chi Minh's house and the Temple of Literature which appeared to have been hosting multiple student graduation that morning.

By some random stroke of luck our hotel (which we had pretty much picked the night before we were due to arrive in Hanoi) was a two minute walk from the Hanoi mosque we had previously looked up. Jummah itself was typical; the mosque seemed to be served by expats and immigrants more than locals but there was still a distinct vibe to the proceedings. Afterwards I began chatting to some of the regular attendees to get a sense of Islam in Hanoi and Vietnam; and of course when I say "sense of Islam" I really meant somewhere we could get halal food from. Unfortunately although we found the restaurant we were told about, it had already closed in preparation for dinner.

The afternoon was pretty low key otherwise. We headed to our last tourist spot of Hanoi, Hoa Lo Prison, which for me was more of a cultural experience than a a historical one. Although it gets mixed reviews by visitors, I thought it was pretty interesting.

The late afternoon and early evening was spent hanging out in a cafe by the lake, where I took the opportunity to pop by the Ngoc Son Temple and mingle with both tourists and natives who were doing the same.

And that was pretty much it for Hanoi, as we grabbed a taxi to the airport to catch our flight to Ho Chi Minh City. We got in pretty late and missed dinner as a result. To be honest I'm way to tired to have eaten anyway.

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