South East Asia

Friendly Visit to Hanoi, Vietnam


Tagging on Hanoi, Vietnam, to my China trip to see friends Ragnhild, Tim and their family. Last year I made it to the city on my SE Asia trip but had to leave as I got sick. The feeling of getting so close irked me for a year, but now I made up for it. Sort of, because this time I picked up a stomach bug in China before arriving in Vietnam and that put a dent in some local travel plans with Tim.

The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, is known for its old architecture and mix of Southeast Asian, Chinese and French cultures. The mix is perhaps most evident in the famous and bustling Old Quarter, with its narrow streets and shops. Arranged in sections by trade, it’s a fascinating area for a Westerner used to megastores like Target. Traipsing the city on the back of Tim’s scooter, I learned to relax, even in Hanoi’s busy traffic. Though my stomach problems kept us from doing the planned motorcycle trip outside the city, I had a grand time exploring a city that is in rapid change. Tim and family have lived in Hanoi for about three years and knew the city as the natives, something I benefitted from tremendously.

IMG_3845The Old Quarter, Hanoi. See it before it’s too late.

IMG_3878The wreckage of a B-52 bomber in the middle of the city, the pride of the display fading. I may be wrong, but there seems to be a greater preoccupation with the war in the U.S. The Vietnamese appear “done” with it. That is, of course, the perspective of an outsider and I am sure the war still brings suffering to many.

IMG_3880Tim, my chauffeur.

IMG_3834My friends neighborhood. The clementines in full fruit. The plants are an important fixture of the Tet celebration.

IMG_3833The Brennen/Dybdahl mansion.

IMG_3902I always visit graveyards wherever I go. Hanoi was no exception.


IMG_3870Philosophers Temple.


Tim and I encountered these giant murals outside some temple, which name was unreadable to us. Apparently, the concept of hell is similar across cultures.








IMG_3875And while on the subject of hell, this is the lake John McCain found himself in after parachuting into the middle of Hanoi. The unintended visit landed him in the infamous Hanoi Hilton and later helped launch his political career.


Categories: South East Asia, Vietnam

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