Sunday, June 17, 2012

Halong Bay- "Princess Junk" Cruising the Bay

We were on the "Princess Junk," the first deluxe one-cabin junk on Halong Bay. The interior is all hard wood and very lovely. The crew was fabulous. Everyone was so nice. Look at the gorgeous bird the cooks carved out of vegetables. They bought all new pots and pans for us and cooked all vegetarian meals, after many consultations with our travel agent.

The name Halong means "the dragon descending to the sea." It is a picturesque bay with some 3000 islands rising form the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The islands are home to many species of animals seldom seen on the mainland including- monkeys, tropical birds and a rich abundance of marine life. Vung Vieng is a floating fishing village which you can see above.

Halong Bay- Peaceful Beauty!!

Situated in the northeast region of Viet Nam, Halong Bay is made up of a dense cluster of 1969 limestone islands of various sizes, 989 of which have been given names. Viewed from above, Halong Bay resembles a geographical work of art. While exploring the bay, you feel lost in a legendary world of stone islands. along has been proven by scientists that it was one of the first cradles of human existence in the area. It is also a region of highly concentrated biological diversity with many ecosystems of salt water-flooded forests, coral reefs and tropical forests featuring thousands of species of animals and plant life. Specially, the 18th meeting of the World Heritage of UNESCO (in Thailand on December 17, 1994), officially recognized Halong Bay as a natural heritage site of worldwide importance.

Hanoi Hilton

Hỏa Lò Prison, later sarcastically known to American prisoners of war as the "Hanoi Hilton", was a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War.

Very bizarre place, for me. I never really realized it was an old prison. Somehow, I thought they took over a hotel and made it into a prison. That's how dumb I was about the war. Seeing a place of torture and history first hand. Now it is a museum. I read everything they had there to know what went on. It was the least I could do.

Hanoi Highlights

Hanoi has a lot of charm, with ochre-colored  colonial style buildings, tree-lined boulevards, elegant squares and green parks as well as modern buildings. Hanoi means "within a river bend." Established as a defensive citadel in the 8th century, Hanoi has had at least 7 name changes. In the past, Hanoi was first chosen by King Ly Thai To as the capital of the country and was named Thang Long (Ascending Dragon) in 1010. through several successive dynasties, it remained the capital city, the heart and soul of the nation, and has borne a variety of names, including Dong Kinh (Eastern Capital) from which the Europeans derived the name they applied to all of northern Viet Nam, Tonkin. The city was finally named Hanoi by Emporor Tu Duc  (Nguyen Dynasty) in 1831. From 1902 to 1953, Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina.

It is now a bustling city of 2 and a half million people and over a million motorbikes. There is a cosmopolitan flair to it as you can see from the signs in Hebrew.( 4th photo above) The Ho Chi Mihn Museum is where he is buried and is a very popular site (first photo). The next photo is the President's Residence which was built by the French but Ho Chi Minh refused to live there. It was too fancy for him. He used it for state events but lived in a more modest apartment (third photo) behind the residence. the last photo shows the over abundance of wires on a telephone pole. Many people from the countryside are moving into the city every year at an accelerated speed and is not decreasing in the foreseeable future.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

ART: Inspire from Viet Nam Trip

This series of Archival Pigment Prints is entited Devotion
This series of prints is based on photographs of walls of monasteries I visited in Hue, Viet Nam.
Contact me at for more information

Hue: Along the Way

Fruits at Dong Ba Market

More vegetables at Dong Ba Market in Hue

Mosaics at Khai Dinh's Mausoleum

Mosaics at Khai Dinh's Mausoleum

Mosaic room at Khai Dinh's Mausoleum

Large fruit and vegetable market in Hue where fresh produce is available from local farmers. There was so much fresh produce available throughout Asia, it was a pleasure to eat healthy and nourishing fresh food!!

Khai Dinh's Mausoleum was built between 1920 and 1932, the last of the mausoleums of the Nguyen Dynasty and by the time he was contemplating the afterlife, rich had given way to concrete.  The interior is decorated with colorful murals and fragments of porcelain. It is the most elaborate of all the tombs

Hue, Viet Nam: A Beautiful Way

Hai Van Mountain Pass

Along the Perfume River

Pagoda built under the Nguyen Dynasty

Along the Perfume River

Thien Mu Pagoda built in 1601
Hue served as the political capital of Viet Nam from 1802 to 1945 and has been one of its cultural, religious and educational centers. It is a small and quiet city know for its architecture, and in 1993 was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site.

Thien Mu Pagoda is Hue's most preserved monument standing on the riverbank with its seven-floored tower. It was built in 1601 by Nguyen Hoang, the governor of Hue. The monastery is the oldest in Hue.

There was considerable fighting in this region during the Viet Nam War. I remember reading about Hue often in the papers.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hoi An, China Beach and Danang- Old Names: New References

Selling sweets for the Lunar New Year

Beauty abounds in all corners!!

Danang has a new meaning to me

China Beach
Hoi An's ancient bridge- over 700  years old

View from the hotel in Hoi An

Ruins of My Son, former center of Cham Kingdom

Ruins of My Son 2, former center of Cham Kingdom
Charming Hoi An is an old city 30 kilometers south of Danang. originally a horbor for tne Cham city at My Son, the town became a trading port for Chinese, Japanese and European traders, reaching its peak in the 17th century.

The average temperature in central Viet Nam is around 26 degrees Celsius, although it gets cooler in December and January. There are two main seasons- dry season from February to August and rainy season which starts in September.

China Beach, Danang- these places were associated with war- not lovely places to swim and relax. not flowers and peace. it's a disconnect  to reorient your thinking and conjure up new images. Viet Nam is a beautiful country with lovely, peaceful, friendly people.

The Man teiV War from the Other Perspective # 2

Visiting Viet Nam was an interesting experience for me who lived through the Viet Nam War. I was opposed to the war and thought, especially in the later years, we should get out. It was very difficult to watch the movie at the War Remnant Museum which honored war heroes for killing so many Americans. Remembering they were mostly our young boys hurt and I was crying by the time the movie was over. The part of the Museum dedicated to journalists was also very moving. Many were killed during the war as well.

The Cu Chi Tunnels, 120 miles underground, used by the Viet Cong forces to fight the French and the Americans show the tenacity of the Viet Nam fighters during the war.

The Viet Nam people suffered a lot during the war as did the Cambodians who were both bombed excessively. They have decided to forgive and forget. The north and south have moved forward and created a unified country,  not without some issues, but Ho Chi Minh was a dedicated leader who had his people's best interests at heart. I really believe he did what he thought was best for his country and might have become more democratic or capitalistic if he had lived longer. He choose communism partly because they were the only people who helped him.


The Man teiV War from the Other Perspective #1

Cu Chin Tunnels

Norman coming out of tunnel into hospital

War Remnants Museum

Watching a movie depicting the war from the Viet Nam's side

The iconic picture I remember being in the newspaper during the war

Sam Castan, Look Magazine Editor and Photographer, 5.12.35 Brooklyn, NY - 5.21.66 An Khe, Viet Nam