January 21st I landed in Hanoi from Los Angeles. My friend Noel Horton, who also teaches at MIU in Mongolia, and I met at the airport. We have had an excellent time visiting friends and places here. At the moment we are in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). For this blog post I have only added photos from our time in Hanoi. I could have posted a ton of photos, but have tried to limit the number but also want to give a true sense of what my impressions are of Vietnam.
The friends and families we have visited are super. They treat us with such care and love... like kings! ... as guests, not only of their homes but of their country. They love their country and want to show us its beauty and interest. It has been an adventure for Noel and me :)
We have stayed in several towns outside of Hanoi, as well as in the center of the busy old district in Hanoi. So interesting!! The first town we stayed in was Ninh Binh where our friends Giang and Huong and their family live. They were so kind to us, gave us some delicious meals and took us to some of the sites in and around their town. We were there for the lunar new year, which they call Tet. Fun to see all the traditions they do. It is the most important holiday of the year for the Vietnamese. Great time! Next we met our friends Minh Ngoc and Thu Dung at the bus station and rode with them to Nam Dinh, about two hours south of Hanoi. There we attended the beautiful wedding of our friend PJ and her new husband. So interesting to be involved in the midst of the wedding. They considered Noel and I as honored guests.
After a detour and a 7 hour bus ride (ugh!) we arrived back in Hanoi. We had time with Minh Ngoc and her family outside of Hanoi, and met some of her other friends there, including her grandfather and grandmother. So nice! Back in Hanoi, we went to a ceramic village called Bat Trang where we had some fun making pottery and seeing the town with Hoa, Bich, Minh Ngoc, Trang and friend. We never saw the sun in Hanoi... only cloud cover, rain and drizzle, and tons of traffic. But it was really good to walk so many of the streets of Hanoi, see all the stuff for sale, all the motorbikes (there are tons of them!) and people.
Saigon is sooo different. But I will say more about it and post photos in a few days :) Enjoy the photos!
|Noel showing his bravery in singing karaoke with his new friend|
|Minh Ngoc's grandmother :)|
|Giang, my "daughter" and her sister in Ninh Binh|
|Noel and Giang's friends in Ninh Binh|
|A Tet custom in Hanoi|
|Noel, Trang, me and Bich, another "daughter" having coffee in Hanoi|
|Me with our friends Linh and Trang :)|
|Bich, Linh and Trang heading home...|
|A worker in Nam Dinh|
|The Catholic church in Nam Dinh built by the French|
|My dear Niece PJ on the day of her wedding in Nam Dinh|
|A wedding tradition|
|Noel and I sang a song at PJ's wedding|
|A new friend...|
|My Niece "Blondie" with her grandfather|
|Niece Blondie, Linh, me, Thu Thu and Starla Pham at Blondie's home|
|Thu Dung, Noel and Blondie in the center of Hanoi|
|Some expert roller bladers we met at the park in Hanoi|
|Our friend who showed us pottery techniques|
|My "daughter" Hoa in Bat Trang|
|Lunch with our friends in Bat Trang|
|Blondie, Trang and Hoa painting their pottery|