As my wife, Melissa, has told me on more than one occasion, “You go to weird places for vacation.”
I will admit that, on occasion, my venturing may have trended toward the esoteric. With Melissa not being one to venture where air travel is necessary, my usual go-to person for such venturing is my sister.
It was some time after my road trip into the Canadian arctic that my sister, who lives in Japan, said, you should visit me, again, and we can go elsewhere in Asia.
A bit of back and forth through email with my sister, and we settled on Vietnam over Christmas and New Years. So, for the last few days, my sister and I have been in Hanoi. Getting here was a bit of journey, at least for me. A long layover and then a canceled flight out of Seattle made it so I only had 12 hours in Japan.Meghann and I were then off to Incheon, South Korea, to catch another flight to Hanoi.
Landing in Hanoi, the first thing that I noticed was the air. We landed in the late evening, and a mist had settled in on the area. There was a chill in the air with a slight woodsmoke smell. It was likely just the jet lag, but I briefly flashed back to the cabin we used to caretake on Perch Lake in northern Minnesota. It was a familiar smell – damp air with woodsmoke, it was somewhat comforting – but the surroundings were far from familiar.
Since getting to the hotel which is near Hoàn Kiếm Lake, we have visited Tam Cốc-Bích Động – a waterway with limestone karsts that jut out of the landscape, we have also visited Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, checked out John McCain’s flight suit at Hoa Lo Prison (“Hanoi Hilton”), visited several Buddhist shrines, had some wicked-awesome food, visited the remnants of a B52G that was shot down over Hanoi, we have wandered some of the main streets and side streets of Hanoi, we have seen abject poverty and a brand new Bentley all within walking distance from our hotel. We rounded out tonight with watching a traditional water puppet show – Nhà hát múa rối Thăng Long.
Tomorrow we head to the Gulf of Tonkin and Hạ Long Bay. I’ll leave you with a photo of a plaque near the downed B52G.