In Northern Vietnam in the Red River Delta, lies the city of Ninh Binh. The Red River runs through the area and enters into the Gulf of Tonkin. The Delta provides the local people with fish, rice fields and wildlife. The city is home to about 130,000 people, it is the capital of the Ninh Binh province and it is about two hours S/E from Ha Noi. The city and the province was of great importance as an ally to the French during the preceding events to the Sino-French war in the bay of Tonkin. The Sino French war started in 1884. The French artillery that was established on the citadel up on a hilltop controlled access to the Bay of Tonkin through the Red River.
The Red River got its name because the water is filled with silt from the fertile Red soil that is in the area. This gives the river a Reddish Brown tint.
The Lotus flower – Nelumbo nucifera a.k.a. Indian Lotus grows “en masse” along the banks of the Red River in the Delta.
Hoopnets are used by the local fishermen on the Red River. The bait sits at the end of the hoop and the fish swims through cylindrical portals that has a wide beginning but tapers to a smaller opening so the fish can not find its way back out. The nets are generally situated with the wider opening facing downstream to prevent clogging the net with silt.
Vietnam has endured many wars over time. Four of the wars were in modern, fairly recent times with the latest and hopefully the last war being against the US November 1 1959 – April 30 1975 . When Saigon fell and the war was over the NVA (People’s Army of Vietnam) was the Victor. When the war was raging during the 60’s and 70’s it was the Vietnam war that made the headlines and spurred protests around the world. Images such as Eddie Adams’ photo of an officer shooting a man in the street point blank during the “Tet offensive“, and images of Vietnamese people including children fleeing the Napalm bombings were seared into the memories of a generation, – my generation!
Today Vietnam is a country bustling with activity and an economy that rivals many countries in the S/E Asia region. Building activity is fervent and there seems to be a real optimism in the country. It is really great to experience how the country and the people of Vietnam has moved on from the years of war. The kindness and welcoming attitude of the people makes you feel really welcome to their part of the world. I was not sure what to expect before my first visit, would there be a lingering animosity from the years of war? But no, at no time did I feel that there was any kind of animosity towards me from the local people I met. There was more curiosity and friendly interest in people from other parts of the world and as mentioned I felt a very welcome to their beautiful country. I can’t help but think that it may have something to do with Bill Clinton’s normalization of the relationship with Vietnam with the help of the late Senator John McCain.
The old Quarter of Hanoi can be a slightly challenging place at times, but I do think this is the place to stay in Hanoi,. Although, be aware that if you are not in good physical shape, then maybe staying outside of the old Quarter should be considered. In the old Quarter you will at times feel like you are running an obstacle course when you attempt to cross the street. Crosswalks and traffic lights mean less here than in many other places in the world. Other parts of the city is slightly less hectic and have wider sidewalks and better options for crossing the road, but they may lack the charm of the old Quarter.
Vietnam is a Socialist Republic that has adopted many of the Socialist manifestos and ways of governing. Just don’t let this prevent you from visiting, as a visitor you are mot likely to notice much of it other than some posters with messages that you will not be able to read unless you can read Vietnamese.
Visit Vietnam and see this beautiful country, eat the great foods and interact with the friendly Vietnamese people. The culture is very interesting and the arts are strongly supported by the government. This is very much unlike countries such as the US where art has been forced to take a back seat in schools and other places due to budget cuts and an unwillingness to spend money on the arts – that way of thinking is just very shortsighted.
A country that has a “Temple of literature” like Vietnam does in Ha Noi, must be in the top as far as the arts and in particular as far as philosophy goes!