Sunday, October 5, 2014

Halong Bay, Hanoi to Hue



Boat Crew 

Covered Riders
It’s steamy in Hue, Vietnam. Even at 10 p.m. Nothing new. Most of Vietnam lives a heat wave. But Hue is special, not only because it lays along the Perfume River, but because of its history. This was the headquarters of the Viet Cong during the terrible war. Hue is just below the 17th parallel in southern Vietnam. The Viet Cong were the guerillas who supported the NVA (North Vietnam Army) but kept the strife on the front pages in South Korea. Hue, a beautiful green city with antique pagodas and extraordinary dynastic tombs, was the target of much of US bombs It is surrounded by distant mountains and is not far from the ocean. And the people are the most conservative, the most communist, and the most extraordinary in this country. They are atypical, according to our guide. One way or the other, they are extremely welcoming.

Red flags for Independence Day
This morning we had continued the float in Halong Bay in North Vietnam, docking along with a mass of other larger sea craft which carried larger loads and had spent the night in the waters, then climbing aboard the seaplane with the same captain and once again being the only passengers, then trapsing
Banana Flower Salad
through the Hanoi Domestic airport quickly to our car, we drove into Hanoi for lunch at Don’s, for one of the best meals I’ve had on this trip. Don, a Canadian, was the original celebrity chef in Vietnam. His second floor restaurant (most good restaurants are on 2nd floors in Asia) is a bright environment of blues and friendly Asian staff. Not only did I get to relish once more my very favorite foods: green papaya salad, pomelo salad, but a newie - banana flower salad, a feast of julienned veggies as carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, green mango, banana flower (the bulb), but with cilantro, mint and crunched up peanuts and cashews. The fish sauce-rice vinegar-lime and sugar sauce, Yes!! 

Just being in Hanoi is a treat. Streets are jammed with life. Only the brave would join the frantic but organized (sort of)
So Many Wires
mass travel on the streets. Mostly mopeds (Hondas and Yamahas are the most popular) and automobiles must just make do, though they have the right of way. Dare to walk across the street at a zebra-stripe and you ‘ll be tangled up in mopeds and motorcycles and bicycles - no one stops, not even vehicles.  But you are told just to slowly, confidentially to wade across slowly without panic and they can judge you and move around you. Whew! My Hanoi question is why are there


Stuffed Ga-Ga
thousands of black cables all over the place, like they haven’t found a tube to put them all in. A friend confirmed when there is an electrical problem, somehow the repair-guys can figure out which of the hundreds belongs to you. People on the streets are bundled up like they have a disease with masks, hats then helmets over the hats, and women wear flowered cotton jackets with hoodies. I asked how can you tell if it’s your friend or not, and somehow life happens anyway.  Even in China I didn’t see so many masks - many in bright fabrics. Old women  in triangular bamboo hats still seem to do the carrying, balancing a bamboo pole on the back from which hang two baskets of some sort of fruit or vegetable or product. They dress in the old fashioned pajama form. 
Vietnam Art Today

We only had a few hours between flights, and it’s the usual slow hour to the airport, so we went to friend Suzanne Lecht’s new gallery (opening now) and talked art, while looking at her amazing two floor space filled with works by her stable of Vietnam artist. She has been their mentor and advocate since the ‘90ties and has a great grasp on who is doing what to break out in the volatile Asian art world. She gave us some names to see in Hue, our next destination. 
Le Residence on Perfume River

We had to head back to the airport in the afternoon to catch the evening one hour flight to Hue. When we landed at the modest airport and did the old stairs-bus transfer to the baggage claim, I knew this was a city not full of itself. Our A&K guide was with us and we were welcomed by a driver and a SUV fully airconditioned. If nothing else, Hue is the hottest place in Vietnam, and that is saying something. One melts quickly and AC is not a sure thing anywhere. But the La Residence is a hotel to dream about overlooking the Perfume River. My balcony goes around the building and in the early morning air I can watch the river come alive. The architecture is white French Colonial with swimming pools and gardens and spas and tranquility inside a busy town. Most every hotel has some sort of spa. Testing that can be risky. The descriptions sound a lot better than the real thing, as I found out on an attempt at reflexology. 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Audrey,
We forgot to tell you that the weather has really changed in Memphis. The temperature has dropped into the seventies during the day and the sixties at night. Bad thunderstorm several nights ago!
The Tigers beat Cincinnati at Cincinnati last night 41 to 14. Cincinnati was favored to win the Conference Championship.
Also, Ole Miss defeated Alabams, yesterday, at Oxford by a score of 23 to 17. First time the Rebels have beaten Bama in eleven years. Very exciting!
Still don't know what is going on at the Court. Understand changes are on the drawing board.
We love you,
Geraldean and Judge

Anonymous said...

Audrey,
We forgot to tell you that the weather has really changed in Memphis. The temperature has dropped into the seventies during the day and the sixties at night. Bad thunderstorm several nights ago!
The Tigers beat Cincinnati at Cincinnati last night 41 to 14. Cincinnati was favored to win the Conference Championship.
Also, Ole Miss defeated Alabams, yesterday, at Oxford by a score of 23 to 17. First time the Rebels have beaten Bama in eleven years. Very exciting!
Still don't know what is going on at the Court. Understand changes are on the drawing board.
We love you,
Geraldean and Judge