17 May 2009

Hanoi ~ Dragon City

National Geographic Traveller Magazine in Apr 2009 issue interviewed Paul Theroux, writer with 50 books to his credit, a prolific, incisive observer and the ultimate traveller.

What surprised you?
The forgiveness in Vietnam. After we dropped over seven million tons of bombs, 13 million gallons of Agent Orange, and killed millions of their people, Americans are greeted politely, welcomed, urged to have some noodles (pho). It's a great lesson to anyone familiar with other wars and atrocities.
This is how my tales of 2 the most interesting cities in Asia begins.
In 1991, when I was travelling to United States, on my way there I was sitting next to a South Vietnamese who has migrated to Los Angeles since the last days of the fall of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh). He told me his Uncle was a Captain in the South Vietnamese army & during that fateful day, he managed to get into the helicopter with the Vietcongs shooting at them. And, to be able to hold the people on the board the aircraft carriers, the Americans were pushing the planes & copters into the sea. How humane!
And in the same trip, on the way back from US, I sat with another South Vietnamese, who was in the army. He has great stories of how he escape from the invading North soldiers and the Vietcongs.
Despite all these, 15 years after the fall Saigon in 1975, I can say that Vietnam has embraced the World. And people from all over the World has "invaded" this Archipelago once again! Of course, this time they bring along money and not arms.

Meal at the Square (Quan An Ngon) Ly Thai To, founder of Vietnam

Above: Top to bottom: Lunch in the boat in Halong Bay; Halong Bay the Heritage Site

Ho Hoan Kiem at Sunset; and at Sunrise as early as 6.30am!

What we enjoy the most: Tea time on tiny stools at one of the many stalls on 5-foot way. Nice cold bia (beer) coupled with some delicious tofu, cuttlefish & cold cuts.

Rows of shops on one road selling "cheap & good" shoes & sandals. A pair Nike & Adidas sports shoes for as low as US$17!

Group Photo with students from KOTO (Know One, Teach One) "chefs" after a sumptious lunch at the KOTO Restaurant!

Don Xuan Market - Lots of foodstuffs

Coffee anyone? The Vietnamese enjoy their coffee besides the bia

07 May 2009

Hanoi Street Vendors

Ballad of Hanoi Street Vendors

They are up before the sun rises,
carrying, peddling, offering their goods for sale;

they are almost all ladies, no surprises,
they are the famous Hanoi street vendors, and it's not a fairy-tale!

Pineapples, tapioca, oranges & potatoes,
Baquette, flowers, toys & mangoes;
we salute these hardworking & resourceful ladies,
plodding day & nite, just to make some Dong to feed their "babies"!

Hanoi Trip:
1 May to 4 May 2009