Friday, August 24, 2007

Last Post from Viet Nam...

but not last post ON Viet Nam, I don't think. My apologies for the long delay - one month exactly, in fact - since my last post. In the interim Midori and I have written a 77-page document on just a few of the ins-and-outs of housing and microfinance in Viet Nam and Cambodia. Now that That's over with, and I have had three nights of 12-plus hours of sleep in the week since, on to Ha Noi!

Visually, two themes keep recurring for me in Viet Nam: color and infrastructure. The former usually catches me through some juxtaposition of weathering and vibrancy. The latter, evidence of increasing national wealth, manifests visually in a haphazard accretion of roads, pipes, and, everywhere, electrical connections. Ha Noi has 'em both, though in the transitions from Real Life -> diggity-film -> iPhoto -> blog, the colors lose some of their punch. Also, in Ha Noi, awesome architecture:

The old market has entire blocks dedicated to a single product. I spare you the photos I have of the cardboard stores, near (really) the tape-only stores. Instead, toys:

This apartment block sits somewhere in the north end of the old market in Ha Noi. I like the repetition: many lives making identical units their own.I will ROCK this style when I am (a little bit) older.
I haven't yet figured out if the toilet paper is crucial to the Look, or merely to the photo.

Central Ha Noi surrounds Hoan Kiem Lake, which opens Ha Noi up and provides a breeze. In the middle of the lake is Ngoc Son Temple, reached by way of a v. scenic red bridge. Father and daughter on the grounds of the temple (Midori took this one):

Inside, fantastic light.The lake features in Vietnamese mythology: in the 16th century, a turtle bore a magic sword from its depths in answer to the prayers of a fisherman named Le Loi, who used it to fight Chinese occupation in the North. Afterwards the turtle took back the sword. Oddly Arthurian.

Ha Noi also has a pretty good army museum; better than the War Remnants museum in HCMC, mainly since it goes far back into the early occupation of, and resistance to, the French. (It isn't any less wrenching.) It also had more artifacts alongside its collection of photographs, including the following note and translations, from the pocket of a downed pilot:

I mean, seriously: "misfortune"? I too would hope very much for sympathy were I to suffer the extreme "misfortune" of bailing out of my plane after being shot down on a bombing run. But I don't think I'd put much faith in that note eliciting it.

This stack of wreckage, about 30 ft high, includes pieces from many different planes:

Finally, Midori doing her best "Marilyn Monroe next to a Russian Built, Vietnamese Flown, American Killing Fighter Jet" pose:


Le Thanh said...

hahah, hi Pat, very cool pix in Kien Giang and Vietnam in general mate. Hahah, Midori was doing her best Marylin MOnroe! Awesome pix! :-))

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