This recreation of a traditional tomb was surrounded by fertility statues. Taken at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi.
This is my one of my current computer wallpapers [full size is here if anyone wants it]. Taken at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi.
These are the kids from the Literature Temple in Hanoi. As you can see, there are a great many of them. Now picture me, pressed into a corner surrounded by the whole giggling group, and you will get a better picture of my Literature Temply Experience.
In all honestly, they were super cute and funny, but it was pretty overwhelming to be unexpectedly surrounded by a whole group of children and interrogated about my name, home town, and career. I’m still a little puzzled about why I was so much more interesting than Miles & Leanne seemed to be, but I doubt I will ever know.
Also pictured is one of the kids rubbing the head of one of the Tortoise statues at the temple. Tortoises are one of four sacred creatures in Vietnam, and they symbolize longevity. I was told that it is very good luck to rub their heads, as it is something of a prayer/wish for long life.
This shot was taken at one of the assembly halls in Hoi An. The assembly halls were built by the Chinese during the old silk trading days, and the Chinese influence was noticeable in architecture and styling. There were altars and incense bowls all over, and I was the only person in the hall so I had free reign of the place.
After visiting the Crazy House we headed up to the Summer Palace of King Dao. The palace is a gorgeous Art Deco building and is probably the coolest palace/historical buiding I have ever visited, not just because I loved the 1930s feel, but also because it was mostly empty of people during the visit, and instead of those pesky velvet ropes keeping you in the halways and out of the rooms, you could enter every room in the house.
These two photos are from the throne room. They have it set up so that you can dress up in fancy outfits, and sit in the chair posing as the Queen for a photo. When I wandered into the room the guy manning the room asked me if I wanted to do it, except he only said “Queen?” which caused me to say “what?” and after repeating ourselves severl more times, he pointed to a wall of photos of tourists impersonating royalty and said “Queen?” to which I said a very quick “no!” and probably looked vaguely horrified because he definitely got a laugh out of it.
The strangest thing was definitely the rows of worn yellow boots that they had for you to wear for the photos. No thank you!
You can view the whole slideshow from the summer palace here:
This is the Dalat Crazy House. What is the Dalat Crazy House you might ask? Well, it’s this hotel that is, crazy. It’s sort of a weird Gaudi/Dali-esque treehouse filled with intricately carved furniture and animal themed guest rooms. If you don’t want to stay there, you can still pay an entrance fee and visit the house. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen and was definitely worth the trip for the strange factor alone.
While we were there we saw tow separate groups of people who were on our flight into Dalat, and I also encountered an excited older asain man who spoke no English but really wanted to see my camera. He gestured to it repeatedly and asked to see it, I kept saying no and his friend, watched the exchange and laughed. The excited guy was sporting his own Nikon camera so I’m still not really sure why he was so insistent to see mine.
Vietnam was a country full of tiny plastic chairs. All along the streets in front of shops, the sidewalks would be full of people selling goods and sitting in these little chairs. In Hanoi our hotel was near an intersection with corner bars which filled the sidewalk and street with plastic chairs at night and big groups of tourists and locals would sit drinking beer hunched into the kid sized chairs.
I am terrible at this posting regularly blogging thing, so I am going to catch up in a series of backdated blogs. At least it will look like I’m good at schedules!
A horse themed post. Both of these pictures are from Dalat. The first was taken while we were walking around the lake to the Dalat Florwe Garden. We were enjoying our walk (unbeknownst to me I was working up an epic sunburn) and randomly a horse appeared on the side of the road! The horse was just chillin, he was tied up on a long rope nibbling on some grass and there was no one around. It was very random.
The second picture comes from inside the Flower Garden. This guy was walking around with the horse and for a small fee you could ay to sit on the horse and have your friends take your picture. I think it was a pretty slow day at the Garden, and this guy loked a little bored. Suffice to say, it was surreal to see a Vietnamese dude walking around a botanical garden towing a horse in western cowboy gear.
We saw some seriously weird food in the markets, but this is one of the only photos I took (mostly I concentrated on walking as fast as possible and breathing as little as possible). This shop was selling some seriously fresh fish. Still alive, and swimming around in these bowls on the sidewalk fresh. I think I looked a little horrified when I saw them, and the guy on the motorbike was snapping his fingers and pointing to the fish for me. maybe he wanted me to buy them.
LIttle kids in Vietnam were really happy to see me. I guess it’s becuase I looked so, so different. It was really weird, but mostly just funny. This kid yelled hello to me about 15 times and smiled the biggest smile ever when he saw me with my camera. I took this on our second day in Dalat when Miles, Leanne and I wandered around town vaguely trying to get to the lake, but mostly just enjoying the cool neighborhoods we walked through and being happy to get away from tourist central.
The food in vietnam was really great. There were so many amazing fresh veggies to be had, and I was so glad to not have to worry so much about not being able to find vegetarian food (Peru was a lot harder for that). There were a lot of familiar foods, but some, like the incredibly pink dragonfruit above, were more exotic. The dragonfruit, dissappointingly, did not taste nearly as exciting as one might assume from it’s hot pink exterior. It tasted a little bit like a watermelon/kiwi blend, and was stark white with small black seeds.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am in no way shape or form, a morning person. But the crazy time difference between California and Vietnam, worked some serious magic in getting me out of be early. I took this photo on our first full day in Vietnam, from the balcony of the Liberty 2. It was probably just past 5am when I took this picture, and the streets were shockingly quiet. It was also already super warm, and it smelled a little like rain (from the night before) and the streets were still damp.
These photos are from the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. The courtyard of the museum is filled with US Military aircrafts, tanks, and guns from the Vietnam-American war, and the museum itself is filled mainly with photos of the horrors of the war.
The photos of the effects of Agent Orange (Dioxin) were especially horrifying, as were the descriptions of the effects of the US bombing campaign, and the map of Vietnam showing the areas hit by US ordnance. Having read books about the Vietnam war, and hearing lots about it in school, and now having been to Vietnam, I can honestly say that I don’t think it would be at all possible to fully understand how awful that war must have been. From doing Food Not Bombs I’ve met a lot of homeless veterans, many of whom served in Vietnam, and I’ve always been so saddened at just how thoroughly they were fucked up by their experiences. I seriously hope that the Iraq/Afghanistan vets today don’t suffer the same fate.
I am going to try to post a photo (or two) a day from my trip to Vietnam. Some of them will probably have stories to go with them, others might not.
This one is from our first day in Ho Chi Minh City. It was taken (IIRC) shortly after we checked in to out hotel, The Liberty 2. It was definitely the nicest hotel we stayed in on the trip, good sized balcony, big bathroom with a great tub and a separate shower.
After checking in, we went and wandered around Ho Chi Minh City, mostly we marvelled at the crazy number of motorbikes, and took forever to cross the streets for fear of getting run over. We also got followed around for like, 5 blocks by a guy with a bicycle rickshaw type thing, he really wanted to give us a ride, but a) we wanted to walk and b) those things are only big enough to fit 1.5 people, but that guy was really persistent!