Sunday, August 4, 2019

From the Temple of Literature to the Hanoi Hilton, when the beauty and cruelty breaks

New friends, railroad tracks, a French cathedral and a deliscious bowl of Lau soup. 

Enjoying a pint by the train tracks as people scooter about in the typhoon season. We've had to change some plans. Mud slides in Sappa so we're staying in old Hanoi. We ought to be ok. There are layers of history to unpack here. It's good to see the world from another point of view every once in a while.

Enjoying a ten cent draft bia ho'i with my bff after visiting the Hanoi Hilton. History is a lot to digest here. — at Hanoi Old Quarter - Phố cổ Hà Nội.

Walking the streets of Hanoi as an  American  is a startling experience. 
People and  motorcycles everywhere.

History and legends.
Modern tragedies  and cultural lessons are everywhere.
Temple  of Literature.
The ageless banyon trees, 
Stretching into the earth.
Ageless like the poetry.
Confucius suggesting we can all live together.
We can all live in harmony.

And the tragedy.
The Maison Centrale,
A prison in the middle of Hanoi,
Where the French created innovations on cruelty.
And the good people resisted.
Hardened Communists
Who reacted.
Fought for themselves.
John McCain payed a visit to the Heartbreak Hotel,
Hoa Lo Prison 
Into the vortex.
of people who’d learned to fight back.
So much cruelty.
And why were we involved in it?

We walked into the night, 
Drinking off  the whiff of history with cheap local beer.
Forty cents a beer.

Slept in and kept on walking.
Along the train tracks leading to Saigon.
No that’s Ho Chi Men City.
To a traditional house on 87 Ma May, 
Where people old sold bamboo and rattan.
Walking and talking about the circle of life.
“Only trees with roots can grow green.
Only when water has its source and are there large seas and deep rivers.
Where are people originated from.
Because of their ancestors they were born.”
Through the circle of life, their passing making way,
For us.
Our passing making way for others.
Open to let light in,
Fresh air.
Inviting  neighbours for tea.
Its Lunar month,
Fires burn for relatives throughout the streets of Hanoi.
Ashes everywhere.
In a stark contrast, the old  St James Cathedral, when all of a sudden we were back in Europe.
Colonial legacies over and over again in  stark contrast with
Through the market to the oldest  bridge.
More  trees and history.
Trump is “gauche” they reply when we ask.
We couldn’t agree more.
Only cathedral of the trip.
What a relief.
Through the market to the
Hoan Kiem Lake
"Lake of the Returned Sword"
or "Lake of the Restored Sword",
the center of Hanoi.
Pagodas and temples and myths.
Hanoi is the capital because of the sword,  note our friends.
Like the Sword and the stone. 
Bidding goodbye to our friends,
We make our way back to the hotel.
Caroline  and the little one rest. 
I sit at the Odeon, a colonial bar watching the scooters zoom,
The train dash by.
Before Caroline meets me for
And hot soup on  the street outside of hotel. 
Lau soup with the kids,  smiling, living, sharing.
Best soup ever.


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