Archive for June, 2009

Meandering along Majestic & Mysterious Halong Bay

Posted in Hanoi City, Vietnam Travel with tags , on June 15, 2009 by MOUSUMI DUTTA

Darlings, You know the main reason for visiting  Northern Vietnam was to follow in the footsteps of the vision seen in the Movie, “Indochine ” – the streets, the countryside, the temples, the mountains, the ocean.  Ofcourse, that romanticized version  of French Colonial Vietnam no longer exists but the essence of that period remains. What definitely has not changed is this view that was seen in the movie

halong bay

Halong Bay

In the movie, Catherine Daneuve’s adopted daughter & boyfriend are on a boat in Halong Bay…lost & rumor had it that anyone who dared to venture into Halong Bay would go mad…never to return…

mountain ghosts

A maze of mountains / rock formations  rising out of the South China Sea for miles on end. Mysterious & Magestic, they stand silently like ghosts ready to envelope stray sailors without a compass. These days  this destination is a 4 hr car / bus  ride outside Hanoi, where you arrive to Halong City.

halong city

From there, Vietnamese junks with compasses, ready to have you meander around the Bay as the wind whips around you, flecks of salty water land on your face, meals cooked & served aboard

 your junk

your junk as you contemplate…the rock formations

 rock formation

and the caves that lie within

path to cave

…Dau Go cave, Cat Ba cave…Stalagtite & Stalgmite hanging in all shapes & forms…and lo & behold

sitting lion

Sitting Lion, (with its mouth wide open)  at the entrace of a recently discovered cave.  Water, Ships,  caves & what else but Pirates go hand in hand!  Who knows what secret messages were left behind…pirates booty waiting to be discovered…

Well, some things were left to remain silent I suppose. There again the keeper of this hut might know a thing or two.

 house

We can ponder all that as we sail away leaving Halong Bay to vanish into the horizon like a mirage.

 the horizon

 So, until the next set of postcards…au revoir darlings…

Hanoi City cultural Tour

Posted in Hanoi City, Vietnam Travel on June 1, 2009 by MOUSUMI DUTTA

Darlings,  No trip to the City of Hanoi would be complete without visting this famed site

hi chi flag

The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum.  Having made eye contact with a moped driver

moped driver

& a suitable “foreigner” fee agreed upon, the driver motioned with his hand that “Uncle Ho” was sleeping. I nodded in agreement “Yes”, I wanted to visit the sleeping ” Uncle”, the mausoleum not the museum. A plume of black smoke emerged from the moped & as I was about to hop on behind him noticed the 5 letter word emblazoned across the moped “MINSK”…I stared in disbelief as it was the real thing from the Soviet era , still going strong ! So, where’s that postcard… well, I was too caught up…

I chuckled at the thought of visiting Uncle Ho aboard a Minsk. Mind you, no helmets in sight here…however, women had walked by wearing cone hats selling produce.

hi chi

A long line of visitors stood as cameras, bags, mobile phones were retained.  The mausoleum was located in the New section of Hanoi.

Uncle Ho lay in the inner depths of this impressive mausoleum – elegant & dignified in military regalia. Hard to believe he was gone since 1969 – his embalmed body kept for a Nation proud of the Man who had freed them from Colonial stronghold. His body lay in a  glass enclosed roped off area.  The other embalmbed body in this World would be that of Lenin in Moscow. Silently, visitors walked by…mostly Vietnamese & a few tourists.

house on stilts

Next stop was to see Ho Chi Minh’s house & office…yes…this is all so real, not textbook info…This was his house on stilts …there is a living room downstairs & upstairs is a bedroom & another office.

Surrounded by a koi pond & rosebush garden that he tended…how all this escaped attacks is a wonder but there is a secret tunnel underneath the house that visitors are not allowed into…

Closeby Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts is this impressive building…

Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace of the former residence of the governor of French IndoChina (IndoChine)…so regal & ostentatious…

Next stop was the famed “Hanoi Hilton” as dubbed by US Prisoners. Senator John McCain was here for 5 yrs & hence the Hotel terminology. This is what the Hotel looks like…

maison centrale

Built by the French to control Vietnamese uprisings & later retained US POW’s, the original French name “Maison Centrale” remains as a testament to a foreign language imposed upon another Nation. Much of it has been torn down as located in a commerical area to accomodate new highrise construction, however a section of it  remains along with prison cells, torture chambers, interrogation rooms, guillotines with spot lights – art gallery style, all now part of a viewing gallery. Newspaper clippings from the 60’s & photographs of President Nixon & JFK, brought to reality a bygone era.

No shortage of War memorabilia in Hanoi with the War Museum outfitted with fighter jets, raiders, hawks, anything & everything but going into the jet to have a photograph taken with camo gear…

war museum

A line of cannons at the ready , waiting word from the Tower Guard …

annocannon tower

Even in Times of War, Peace prevails with

1 pillar pagoda

the presence of 1 Pillar Pagoda…which was destroyed but re-built in the same location on a pond…so fung shui…

As for us, having seen all this cultural memorabilia, time to check into one of those Cafe’s for some edible culture & have a Cafe Noir & maybe a bon bon…while we plan our next excursion…