33) Urban Vietnam

The Vietnamese people are some of the nicest, most polite, good natured people you will ever meet. In the city they will smile and greet you on the street.  In the country they will often call out “Hello!” from inside their house as you pass by outside.  The old folks (those who have known war) are especially friendly and helpful.

Old and new in Hanoi. The Buddhist pagoda is several hundred years old.
Buddhist pagoda. Buddhism is a very vibrant and dynamic religion in South East Asia. Every house has a Buddhist shrine, and the temples are full.
These highschool students were assigned to interview foreigners in English. Apparently it was a nationwide assignment, because I was interviewed by a dozen different groups in 3 different cities. Often one a their parents would video the whole thing. “What do you like most about Vietnam?” The friendly people, of coarse! It was fun.
View from my balcony- Hanoi. Those apartments are really nice on the inside, although the Vietnamese people don’t use as much furniture as we do. They prefer to sit on the floor on cushions rather than sofas and chairs. In the evening the family will gather for dinner, sitting in a circle talking and laughing. Then they watch tv.
Food stalls at the night market. Dozens of vendors serving all sorts of Vietnamese dishes to hundreds of people. They cook it right in front of you. Spring rolls- 3 for $1. Beef kabobs- $1.50. Chicken curry sandwhich- $1.50. You can’t possibly eat more than about $4 worth of food, and it’s delicious.

Note the girl on back is riding side saddle. How does she stay on?
They make special raincoats for you and your motorbike. I’ve seen extra-long raincoats with 3 head holes for 3 riders.
This guy’s raincoat has a clear panel in front so that the motorbike’s headlight can shine through- for riding at night in the rain.

Motorbikes are often used as taxis, and are the fastest (albeit hair raising) and cheapest way to get around town.  I would typically walk to anyplace that was within 3 kilometers, but I road on the back of plenty of motos.

The motorbike taxi drivers were a great source for local tourist information, both solicited and unsolicited.  “Lady Boom Boom, Sir?”, and other similarly popular tourist attractions were frequently proposed (and declined).

The first pickup truck I’ve seen since I left Texas. In Saigon.
“Laundry Funny”- Saigon. One load- wash/dry/fold: $2.
Hackey-sack and badminton are both very popular games played in the parks. Old people play both games- the woman kicking the hacky-sack here is 60ish. You can watch guys standing 20 yards apart kicking the sack back & forth- same as playing catch.

“Backpacker’s Street”- Saigon. Dozens of restaurants and bars.
Ancient Japanese bridge in Hoi An.
Boats of Hoi An.
Traditional Chinese lanterns for sale.
A guest joined me for breakfast.
Laughing Buddha. He’s a wooden carving, about 12 feet tall.
The produce in Vietnam is the freshest on the planet.

Hanoi rail street. Not a place for law abiding citizens. I passed by and kept moving.
Hitting the bong in Hanoi. I’m pretty sure it’s tobacco, as this is a common site, and you can buy these big bamboo pipes everywhere.
School’s out- Hanoi.
Beautiful bridge leading to a Buddhist temple- Hanoi.
Statue of Lenin- Saigon.  Vietnam today is one of only 5 remaining countrys in the world with self professed Communist governments.  Can you name the other 4?
Reunification Palace- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Formally “Independence Palace”, this was the South Vietnamese president’s home and the seat of government for South Vietnam.  It was renamed after the war to commemorate the reunification of North Vietnam & South Vietnam into simply Vietnam.  Today the palace is an excellent museum.  As Winston Churchill said, “History is written by the victors”.
The South Vietnamese president’s helicopter on the roof of the president’s palace. The 2 red circles in front are where 2 bombs landed from a North Vietnamese bomber on April 8, 1975. Above the right circle is actual debris from the bombing- autographed by the pilot. The American forces had already been withdrawn by this time, and this bombing of the presidential palace convinced the American government that the end was near.  President Ford declined the South Vietnamese government’s request to have the US military re-enter Vietnam to prevent the fall of Siagon.
View from atop the presidential palace in Saigon.
On April 30, 1975 North Vietnamese tanks came rolling down that road and busted through those gates to capture the palace- ending of the Vietnam War.
Tank number 843 is the one that knocked down the palace gates and drove onto the palace grounds.
Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum- Hanoi.
Fisherman in Hue, relaxing at the end of his day. Vietnam at peace is a beautiful place.

4 thoughts on “33) Urban Vietnam”

  1. You are turning all your adventures into a book, right? You should, even if you have to self-publish. Just a thought. Enjoying your adventures so much. Love the pictures.

    1. Hey guys, and Aunt Nita, good to hear from Y’all. Well, my dad wrote a book a few years ago and self-published it. So I guess its feasible, but not something I’m enthused about at the moment. This blog alone has at times been tedious enough, but I’m really glad I had enough support along the way that I just didn’t drop the whole thing back in Europe. I’m looking forward to writing about Australia.

    1. Hey guys, and Aunt Nita, good to hear from Y’all. Well, my dad wrote a book a few years ago and self-published it. So I guess its feasible, but not something I’m enthused about at the moment. This blog alone has at times been tedious enough, but I’m really glad I had enough support along the way that I just didn’t drop the whole thing back in Europe. I’m looking forward to writing about Australia.

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