Good Morning Vietnam

I did find the two large photo albums from our Southeast Asia trip but alas, many of the pages have been plundered – someone (and it could have been me) has taken many of the best photos out of the pages! I suspect it was done to create a separate binder and maybe those Best Of pix are in an envelope, back up in the box where I found the albums. Grrr.

Here are a few from where we started our Vietnam journey, in Hanoi.

Locals waiting in line to tour the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. We did not have to wait in that line, thankfully.
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Inside, Ho’s body was under glass, no pix allowed unfortunately.
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Maison Centrale, aka Hanoi Hilton, aka Hoa Lo Prison. Where McCain sat as prisoner for years. The name Hoa Lo, commonly translated as “fiery furnace” or even “Hell’s hole”, also means “stove”.
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Everywhere women and men were carrying goods on their heads and shoulders. This was August, temps in the 100s, but not one local was perspiring.
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Traffic was mayhem – no rhyme nor reason to the pattern. You need to go? You go the best way to get there, even if that means traveling against the other vehicles.
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Traffic pattern looks fairly serene here but this was the exception, not the rule.
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We traveled mostly by tuk-tuk, with eyes closed as cars and trucks came AT us, around us, by us…..even as seasoned NY drivers we were uncomfortable but knew somehow our driver was going to get us to the hotel safely. We stayed at the legendary Sofitel Metropole, then still with all its famous hallway red carpeting. I suspect it’s been updated.
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Goods sold along every street, off bikes, in shops, in carts… stand we saw was selling thịt chó sandwiches. Look it up. We did NOT eat one! Woof.
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Lots of palaces, museums, government buildings, pagodas and Buddhas.
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We dined at local eateries. We saw the famous water puppet show. We toured the History Museum – we really had a thorough three days in Hanoi, giving us a footing for understanding the rest of the country.

After watching four episodes of the PBS show Vietnam, we as friends and family have been having serious conversations about the war, trying to remember how we felt as teens in 1966 as the war waged. My viewpoint then came from my very hawkish dad but as I got older I grew to understand we were in a war we couldn’t win, and never should have engaged in. I was never a protester, I respected those who fought and understood those who chose not to. I had friends who served, like many of the man interviewed in last night’s episode, who felt it was their duty to fight for America.

I don’t want to spoil any of the series if you haven’t watched it yet and will wait to binge watch it, but I find it extraordinary – especially the interviews of men our age now, those who at age 17 and 18 and 19, went to Vietnam – what they didn’t know, what they learned while serving, and what they think now, looking back.

I’ll hunt for the envelope of Best Of pix and will post more photos from all the other Vietnam towns and villages we visited. ….until you say enough. Deal?

8 thoughts on “Good Morning Vietnam

  1. Hanoi looks lush and pristine. Great pix. How were Americans treated as tourists?

    I didn’t serve, went to grad school instead, but my brother went, willingly, into the Army in 1967. He came home but struggled emotionally for years. Lots of demons.

    We too have been talking about the war. My parents were divided. My siblings too. It was a tough time.

  2. Vietnam s on my bucket list. Been to Bangkok but not much else in that region. Great photos.

    I have not been watching very episode of the series. Has McCain been mentioned yet?

    1. Not yet – just LT Alvarez (the 1st pilot shot down) and ADM Denton (who blinked “torture” with his eyes in morse code). Ken Burns did of course use a picture of GWB with his his fellow Texas ANG pilots when talking about rich white kids who didn’t get drafted.

      1. There was a whole lot of “rich white kid” dissing last night. I noticed, bigly, the photo of GWB. Didn’t care for it. Although, right before the pic of GWB, there was a fleeting glimpse of Bubba Clinton. Burns lingered the camera on GWB.

  3. Not the biggest fan, but it does bother me when people talk GWB’s service in the Texas ANG as being “risk free” in a “champagne unit”.

    Of all the USNA classmates that I have lost over the years, only two were in actual combat – one in Iraq and one on 9/11 at the Pentagon. The rest of them have been killed, almost exclusively, in accidents during “routine” aviation operations. I take my hat off to anyone who has the guts to put themselves in a military aircraft for a living, particularly in those who did so in the early years.

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