Vietnam Gallery ~ Hanoi 1
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Bridge to Ngoc Son Temple
November 20 2001

The Huc bridge spans Hoan Kien lake to the tiny island that holds Ngoc Son Temple - quite a mouthful. All you need know is that the island offers a peaceful refuge in the heart of the noise and dust of the city. Our first introduction to a Vietnamese temple we were stuck by the marshal feel of the shrine. Flanked by traditional pikes, lances and spears, the fierce statues in the shrine reminded us that Vietnam's experience with war stretches back far further than our twentieth century.

 

Huc bridge
November 21 2001

closer view of the Huc bridge - bridge of the rising sun

 

 

 

 

Hanoi flagtower
November 21 2001

One of the symbols of Hanoi, this 19th century tower stands beside the present day Army museum.

 

 

 

It's conical, really
November 20 2001

The limpet shaped hats one sees everywhere in this country seemed to me at first unwieldy and a little ridiculous, though very soon I came to admire their superb design. Perched atop the head to allow maximum ventilation in this hot climate, they afford great protection from the sun (important to the Vietnamese women who consider fair skin beautiful) but also make wonderful umbrellas in the rain. Eventually I even came to love the shape, particularly as they so often had beautiful features beneath them. Vietnamese women are some of the most beautiful in the world.

 

Fruit-seller
November 21 2001

 

 

 

 

 

Ho's Mausoleum
November 21 2001

Despite an expressly stated desire to be cremated "Uncle Ho," as he is affectionately known, was embalmed and ensconced here for public perusal after his death in 1969 (almost 5 years before he would see the Americans leave and his dream of a unified Vietnam come true). As if this final sacrifice for the state were not undignified enough, each year he is bundled of to Russia where he undergoes three months of 'maintenance.' Ho Chi Minh is held in genuine regard in this country, unlike Mao in China. One can only imagine that any enemy of a system as powerful as the alliance of capitalist western states would have been thoroughly discredited by now. At least to students and citizens of its standard bearer, the United States. To the credit of both Ho Chi Minh and education and free press in the west, nothing has ever been discovered or invented to besmirch the belief that he was a dedicated and uncorrupted man who wanted only self-determination and a better life for his people. It is good to know that we can have heroes amongst the 'enemy' ranks as well.

 

Guarding Uncle Ho
November 30 2001

the entrance to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum.

 

 

 

 

Young Love
December 21 2001

Bordering the southern side of the old quarter, the wide promenade around Hoan Kiem lake makes a popular spot for morning exercises like walking, stretching and shadow boxing. In the evenings, other forms of exertion are more popular.

 

 

Masks
December 21 2001

hand-painted masks on sale in Hanoi.

 

 

 

 

Captured Memorabilia
November 21 2001

I found it strange, but as moving as craters and ordinance and overgrown battlefields were, the empty bravado of slogans such as this one on the back of a jacket displayed in Hanoi's army museum, struck an equally powerful chord with me. Is it irony or justice that zippo lighters with this and other variations of battle cries engraved upon them are a popular souvenir with foreign visitors? The Vietnamese seem to have turned their every misfortune into profit - capitalism won where bombs failed. For more on how the "American War of oppression" affected me, see Hollywood Vs. History

 

Honda nightmare
November 30 2001

With barely a car to be seen, rush hour on the streets of Hanoi is at first frightening, then amusing and finally one realizes that motorbikes and bicycles make this mass movement of people more efficient than rush hour in the west. The Vietnamese cannot afford not to be. It was a real lesson to Julie and I who assumed that the West is wealthier because we are more efficient. Consider the petrol needed to transport two people here and compare it to the long traffic jams we have all suffered through in the west - look ahead and behind and as far as you can see there are cars at a standstill with solitary individuals locked in artificial environments. The carpool lane (if there is one) is empty except for scofflaws. Efficiency in the west is limited to our factories where the wealth it brings means we need not exercise it in our private lives.

 

Red Red river
November 30 2001

Source of the most important delta in the north of Vietnam and the river that runs through Hanoi, at the right time of day it's easy to see how this body of water received it's name.



   

 

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