Last day in Hanoi

Dear folks,
We are on our last morning in Hanoi. I’m sitting here looking out the door at a drizzly morning, with bananas, rice gruel, pineapples, bricks, and food stands, all going by on shoulder poles in baskets.

To bring you up to speed, we have been unable to get online with any regularity for nearly 2 weeks. I don’t know if it is government interference, or just capacity to North America, but we cannot usually connect. Worse by far, sometimes we connect, write something and when we go to send, the whole thing just disappears. Both Barb & I have had humorous, deeply perceptive, and inciteful posts go missing (hey, prove me wrong). It just kills the spirit, and the moment is gone when a significant piece of writing evaporates.

So I’m up early watching the rain. Today we leave for the airport at 10AM. Arrive in Newark at 11:30PM and spend the night there. Bus and train thru NYC to New Haven to meet Orion, and then home; midday Saturday. I’m tired just contemplating it.

We had a wonderful week in Hue, which I think Barb did manage to get one or two things out about. Wonderful city, deep history, both with we Americans, and far beyond. Spooky experience in some ways given my memories of those times, and the evidence on the ground; but deeply reassuring when we got to see the reaction of the Vietnamese, and the regrowth and recovery that has taken place with the latest generation. We just loved biking around the countryside, and Hue is a small city, easy to escape. Small villages are connected by paved paths, sometimes only 1 meter wide. They wind trough the fields and villages for km after km. We would wander, getting lost on top of lost. When it was time to get back just a shrug, and a questioning Hue? would set us right.

Hoi An, from where we just returned, is a brand name tourist destination, and though it has its definite beauties, is our least favorite place. All other places even if touristic, had a life of their own. Hoi An is one of those tourist destinations where the central and consuming business is tourism.
Tourism is always a means of extracting the maximum value from the product: ie send the poor fool home with as little money as possible. In the west this is done with great sophistication: $25 T-shirts, $8 beers, $xxx admission charges, etc. etc. Vietnam is no worse, but it has yet to learn much sophistication about the process. Prices are whatever your clothing, demeanor and actions allow. There is an assumption that this will probably be the only chance any given vendor has to get their piece, so get what you can. Like i said, really no different than our tourist spots, but the crassness and pure visibility of the grabbing grubbyness of the process grates,and becomes deeply burdensome. Too bad. We did have some lovely days, sunny, warm beautiful river, town beach. Nice wonderful rides in the country.

So we have some notes from the times we were incommunicado. I don’t know how much will be sent out when we return. Things are busy at work, and the moment will be gone.

So we’ll be in touch again when we are in CT.
love to all.
T

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