Meeting up with Family in Hanoi VietnamDecember 6, 2019 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C
A completely unexpected event in my Experiment in International Living has now happened again: my family came across the world so we could meet. First, my sister Michelle joined me in Oaxaca last July; then she and her husband Jim planned a trip to Vietnam, and invited me to join them in Hanoi this December. A scant forty-five minutes’ strong tail wind flight from Chiang Mai, and there I was in Hanoi airport! (It is worth noting that one can get a visa-on-arrival in Vietnam, but it takes a good hour at the airport AND takes up an entire page on one’s passport.) Never mind the red tape—it was a delight to be together. Michelle and Jim shared a sumptuous room with me in the five-star Hotel L’Opera in Hanoi.
I realized that nearly half a century has passed since the terrible strife of the VietnamWar, and I know many people who have happily visited Vietnam since its end. Yet I still dreaded a confrontation with my past—remembering Vietnamese students studying at the University of Southern California when I was there in 1970-72, and how they wept in the shrouded darkness of their rooms as they learned of the destruction of their country; how we protested the war every day; how the Americans were finally defeated, and the South Vietnamese as well. Michelle and Jim had a guide in Saigon who told them it took him many years of research on his own to realize that the American War (as it’s called in Vietnam) was also a Vietnamese civil war.
Well, capitalism is alive and well in this communist capital. I did no reading in preparation for my five days’ stay, so I have no idea of the real story, but it LOOKS as though entrepreneurship is big. And so is a feeling of hospitality and friendliness extended by the Vietnamese to their American visitors. I loved it, and was writhing in frustration at not being able to say more in Vietnamese than “hello, my name is Dorée, thank you, I love you”—the last being for a joke.
We did a great deal of walking in the French Quarter of Hanoi the evening of my arrival, and then spent the next two days on our own private boat in lovely Halong Bay. Our crew of three waited on us with courtesy and attention, and the three of us were able to chat and catch up in relaxation and good cheer.
I offer you only these details from my point of view, because my sister Michelle wrote a blog about their two-week stay in Vietnam, which I will share with you. The link below is to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, but the rest of the trip can be accessed as well. I hope you enjoy her writerly descriptions, as well as Jim’s photos.
And oh! Here are some photos of mine as well.
And oh! Here are some photos of mine as well.Read more