12 February 2011

Hello Hanoi

Hanoi celebrated its 1000th birthday last year, so we had to check out the center of the world in this city of 6.5 million. 
Don't let this quiet scene fool you because in Hanoi's Old Quarter the noise is second to none and the motorbikes rule the streets.
The mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, where he's on display just like Mao in China, ensuring these comrades will be around for a while.

Even though he hasn't been around for over 40 years, billboards like this of "Uncle Ho" abound. This street vendor let the tourist carry her bananas.

Women performing traditional music at the Temple of Literature -- now where would you find a Temple of Literature in the US?

We really enjoyed seeing with city with our friend Elizabeth, who's been living in Hanoi for the last five years teaching at the Diplomatic Academy. She just finished editing a book of Canadian women's literature translated into Vietnamese which will be introduced by the Canadian embassy.
We toured Ha Long Bay which has thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes.

We spent overnight on one of these boats and visited one of the floating fishing villages which dot the area. 

Some of the islands are hollow with enormous caves; the French named this Grotte des Merveilles, but on the English-speaking tour it was the Surprising Cave, as we indeed found it.
It's all a matter of perspective, as this Vietnam-centric globe proves.