Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Leaving Hanoi

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi was an interesting place. We only had one day there to see things and now we are having breakfast in the Hanoi Airport and are 3 hours into our 36 hour journey back to Sarasota. The picture below shows Ray inspecting a column of NVA veterans. The veterans are visiting the Ho Chi Minh memorial complex in the centre of Hanoi. Ray is now in his 80s. Ray is a veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam and has his veteran hat on for the picture. Ray's wife passed away a year ago during the holidays. He's taking this trip by himself.

You can't take any pictures in the huge mausoleum. They move small groups though quickly. Ray come close to collapsing from shortness of breath and I fall back and help him slowly move past the body. One of the Honor guards approaches and asks if Ray is all right. Another guard motions impatiently for us to move along more quickly. We ignore him and move past the body as soon as Ray can begin to catch his breath.

Uncle Ho wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread in both halves of Vietnam after reunification, but they ignore his wishes and do a Lenin style display of his body in this giant mausoleum.They close the memorial two months a year to refurbish the body. Uncle Ho died in 1969 before he could see the reunification that occured in 1975.

In the market, I see a street artist doing a copy of a stylised portrait of Hunter S. Thompson.

The wiring in Asian cities we visit always appears as if it would be difficult to troubleshoot. We really like our Vietnamese guide, Tony. Tony says that when they have an electrical  problem, it is not uncommon to just give up and string a new wire.

We see the lake in the centre of Hanoi. They fished John McCain out of it with a broken arm after he parachuted out of his Navy fighter jet.  This dragon is on the lake shore.

The dragon seems to have a happy face (and so does the statue in the background).

They customise scooters and bicycles in very innovative ways to transport goods.

The weave and dance of vehicles though intersections and roundabouts is completely amazing. They all seem to ignore what traffic lights there are. A double beep on the horn seems to mean "watch out, I'm coming past".

We visit the Hanoi Hilton, where some American fliers were imprisoned. The building below was right at the edge of the little historic prison, which was also used by the French. It had a guillotine at that time. The prison itself is just not all that photogenic. The cells are very dark and do not photograph well. There is a video explaining how well the Air Force POWs were treated. I'm sure that when Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib become museums, we will produce something very similar. The victor gets to write the history.

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