harbor at Halong Bay
was full of dark wooden junks, a few sported
the traditional golden fanned sails. The Auk Dueng, or the Sunrise, with twelve
passengers, glided smoothly into the bay at the northeast end of Vietnam. Dramatic
limestone cliffs of almost 2,000 islands
jutting up in fantastical shapes, some tiny rocks, others looming walls. We slipped
in and out of the isles, to a sheltered area inside a circle of tall island rock
and dropped anchor. I was the first in the water, warm and welcoming, a magical
place to swim. The shapes became even more mystical in the evening fog, echoing
shapes surrounded us like gray watercolors.
hectic, frantic traffic
in Hanoi is like an interweaving jumble, a
constantly moving river, criss-crossing drivers - there are no lanes, really,
just shoving over a bit for oncoming vehicles. The sidewalks are not much better
- vendors squat or sit on the cement, piles of wares or eating tables, motorcycles
parked, and of course, lots of people. I explored the old quarter, the narrow
streets were devoted to different items: shoes down one road, vegetables another,
tin yet another. One old house, preserved
as a museum, captured the feel of old Vietnamese life.
on visiting Uncle Ho, but did want to see the government center, however I was
shuffled into the line for the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum upon entry with no dissent
accepted. In the complex were the graceful lotus shaped One Pillar Pagoda
which held a female Buddha, and Ho's houses - one of French architecture and a
second Japanese style house with three simple rooms he had built and preferred.
If you go, skip the propaganda filled history museum.
around Hue on the
back of a motorcycle with a cooling breeze on that 100+ day, I visited the historic
Imperial Citadel, the Royal Tomb with it's sentinel
statues, and other sites. Winding through alleyways,
some at right angles, narrowly avoiding a dog, chicken, goat, chicks, I expected
to come out with laundry streaming from me like flags. Along the route I met a
one-armed conical hat maker, an incense maker, and two lovely old ladies: one
a bamboo object maker who now runs a museum - she acted
out the use of each item, from bicycle plow to fish catchers to rice grinders,
with a wide tooth-blackened smile; and an elegantly dressed fortune teller
on a Japanese style covered bridge.
Although I didn't go to the war related museums in Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by locals, stories of wartime and its aftermath were all around. Most guides and hotel and shop people I spoke to told strikingly different stories to this inquisitive American than in the propaganda-coached north: horrible deformities caused by Agent Orange and landmines, family members lost to massacres of villages, and destruction of treasured sites, some restored, some remembered.
I took a boat from My Tho to Dragon Island on a little tour out to the Mekong Delta. Our little boat seemed so small where the river grew so wide. A day of tropical fruit, cocoanut candy, and elephant ear fish. At one place, former rice paddies had turned to lotus ponds, pink flowers raising their heads over the flat leaves. In a rowboat navigating a canal choked with mangrove trees, rowers and passengers all wore conical hats.
|Photography | About me | Home | RRontheroad@hotmail.com|