Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC, Golden, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10/26/11: Hanoi, Vietnam

The four of us left the ship at 0415 to catch a flight to Hanoi, about 1:40 flight time north of Saigon. The destination of our 3-day trip would be Halong Bay, one of the most beautiful places on earth, a place where karst topography (limestone formations) has left thousands of pillars of limestone jutting out of Halong Bay in spectacular fashion.

After arriving in Hanoi we toured Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and the Vietnam Army Museum, a place containing various artifacts from Vietnam’s many wars over the years. Scraps of shot down American warplanes, tanks, planes, an intact Huey, and various weapons and adornments were scattered throughout, but we only had time to view the ‘American War’ section.

The Vietnam Army Museum in Hanoi.

Stairwell inside the Flag Tower.

The Flag Tower.

The ‘coach’ (fancy word for bus) trip to Halong bay was more than 2.5 hours, but the scenery was beautiful, though the visibility was poor, maybe due to humidity, perhaps moreso to pollution (in my opinion). We passed rice paddy upon rice paddy, scores of people harvesting the rice, often bringing it to roadside for mechanical threshing, and in some places the rice was even laid upon the shoulder of the highway to dry. Mid-way we made a bathroom stop at a place that makes large marble sculpture, in addition to crafting clothes, and the lacquer stuff that is so common here. Reade found a pair of ‘wild pants’ to replace his ‘wild pants from India’ that he somehow lost, but the prices weren’t too great. Having come to appreciate sculpture since childhood, I was fascinated by the artistry at this place. There were many buddhas and more ‘traditional’ types of sculpture, but also some rather abstract stuff, really quite artistic in many ways. Due to the widely varying styles, it led me to wonder if the art is actually ‘copied’ from other artists’ work; the classic Vietnamese ‘knockoff’. Was it merely cheap (good value for your money), or just ‘cheap cheap’ (basically, junk)? Tough to tell.

A typical power pole in Vietnam.

Ah, the palmello fruit on the back of a scooter.

Chicken foot, anyone?
We arrived at Halong Bay after dark, unfortunately, but had a great dinner prior to arriving at the hotel. As we finished eating, there started to be some ruckus upstairs, and a few of us went up to see what all the fuss was about. Well, the Vietnamese can party, let me tell you. The ‘ruckus’ was karaoke emanating from a positively wild party; dozens and dozens of middle-aged men in suits (and a few women) were having a good old time, bottles of Chivas and some sort of whiskey being passed around at will. A couple of the college students spied the wood parguet floor and danced to the karaoke song of the moment, some Vietnamese gentleman positively bellowing out the tune, a tune completely unfamiliar to me, as you might imagine. The men loved it, and gave the students shots and took pictures; apparently I stood around smiling long enough that one of them decided I needed a shot, so I sent my regards to whatever the happy occasion was by drinking to it.

Coal dust town; if I had adequate access to Google Earth, I'd tell you the town name.

I found out the hard way that these pigs are indeed alive, on the way to slaughter; how they strap them on there like that, I have no clue.

Can’t wait to wake up in the morning and see what this wondrous place has in store for us!


  1. I'm wondering if you or the boys ate any chicken feet. ;)

  2. Love the stairwell in the flag tower! We will have to compare Hanoi pix when you get home. I may have some of those same power poles in my archives. The Pigs MUST be sedated?? Sandy


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