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hieronyma Hanoi - A travel report by Christl
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Hanoi,  Vietnam - flag Vietnam -  Hà Nºi
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hieronyma's travel reports

Vietnam, a Journey through a traumatized Country

  6 votes
Page: 1 2
Vietnam, this country with the wasp waist borders on Cambodia, Laos, China, and the South China Sea. It is a world of its own, although it gained entrance into the global world, connected to Russia and the USA, but showing China a stiff back. report of the month contest
Feb 2011

Joy of life, Ethnological Museum, Hanoi
Joy of life, Ethnological Museum, Hanoi
Its geography is destiny, its history characterized by foreign rule, intruders, invasors, oppression and bondage, inculturation and over the centuries an astonishing steadiness in its pursuit of the unity of the country. Chinese, Moguls, French, Japanese, Americans, Khmer, all left their mark on its culture, Indonesia, Java, and India too. China ruled the area for a thousand years, until in the 10th c. the North Viertnamese drove them out of the country and started on their trip to the South, successfully controlling the Champa kingdom in Middle Vietam, but interrupted in their progression by the Mogul Kublai Khan (13th c.), whom they withstood. Another time (15th c.) China made them slaves, demanded incredible taxes and took away their archives and the intellectuals, an irreparable loss. A revolt of the Vietnamese destroyed the Chinese dominance and the fight against the Cham led to their annihilation. Portuguese founded a tradingpost in Hoi An beside the Japanese and the Chinese. The Dominican monks followed and Christendom gained influence, lasting until today. In the 17th and 18th c. the Vietnamese experienced a divided country as it was repeated in the 20th c. After 200 years (1802) the country was united again, started a policy of expansion against Laos, Cambodia, and the Khmer which generated a conflict with Siam. Mid 19th c. the French began their colonization, which ended in the first Indochinese War and the development of communism as the leading power. It followed the war against the Japanese during WWII and the gruesome war against the United States. All these wars meant loss of cultural heritage and artefacts, the memory of a state. Finally the victory of the North Vietnamese brought unity and independence, generating in the people a strong volition to retrieve their lives. Today the communist leadership allows controlled liberal economics, declaring as the foremost political goal the rebuilding of the State.

Favourite spots:
Will to live, Children in the left-over Village
Will to live, Children in the left-over Village
As I dipped into the country, seeing all the famous places of natural beauty, relicts of the past, the rebuiling of towns and villages, I was irritated. The country appeared to be faceless. It didn't seem to have a distinguishable character. The question arose: What is Vietnamese? It presented itself noiseless, apart from millions of mopeds, friendly, but controlled. They didn't speak of the wars, only when I asked, but their effect is always visible. In the 19th c. an emperor and his entourage could live in his gravesite in the citadel of Hué an undisturbed, contemplative life, until the French came. My Son, intellectual, religious centre and burial place of the Cham emperors is a magic place in an enchanted valley, formerly hidden in the dschungle. The Americans defoliated the trees with Agent Orange, bombarded the city of ruins because of fear of the Vietkong. That one never will forget. In Qui Nhon, the large military zone during the War of Vietnam, nothing grows anymore.

What's really great:
The Hospital in the Tunnels of Cu Chi
The Hospital in the Tunnels of Cu Chi
In Cu Chi I saw the tunnels of the Vietkong. This “Free Fire Zone” the Americans bombarded with all the weapons they had at their disposal like Agent Orange, Napalm, Dioxin etc. The “natural” weapons of the Vietkong are shown: bamboocanes in the ground, pointedly cut, death must have been horrible, trapdoors of every kind, the living conditions: the workshops to fabricate mines, the sewingroom with the Singer sewingmachine, the kitchen, the assembly room, the hospital, the ventilation system, 3 floors, up to 9 m deep, built between 1947 – 1975, outside the bomb craters, a destroyed armor. There were illnesses: shin, lung, bronchien. They ate, what the land offered: maniok, rice, fruits. And fought – for 28 years. This past is presented in the museums, but in reality the aggressive way of building replaces historical towns and villages destroyed by war ruthlessly with hotels, houses, and hospitals in homogeneous global design. City planning doesn't exist.

Inside the Caodisst Tempel in My Tho
Inside the Caodisst Tempel in My Tho
The Caodaist temple in My Tho standing in the midst of a huge complex of living quarters, gardens, and assembly places made me speechless. At 12 o'clock the believers enter the colourful columned hall with the three consecutively hierarchized “altars”. Headgear and dresses show the strict hierarchy of the sect. Music sounds from the gallery. All sit silently, then bend down with their face to the floor in a guest of reverence. In Saigon also people bring into the temples and pagodas their appeals to the gods as for instance into the Phuoc-An-Hoi-Quan Pagoda with the small ceramic figures or into the Taoist temple of the jade–emporer, where the king of hell menacing points to the misconduct of the human beings. At his feet stands a horse, on which the appeals travel on the fastest way to the gods.

Smelling the fragrance of the rose, Phat Diem.
Smelling the fragrance of the rose, Phat Diem.
Hong Ngoc Hotel***
34 Hang Manh Street, Hanoi
(84 04) 3828 5053  (84 04) 3828 5054

Vien Dong Hotel ***
 275A Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
 (84 8) 3836 8941  (84 8) 3836 9010

Hoi An Hotel ****
 10 Tran Hung Dao, Hoi An, Quang Nam
(84 510) 3861 445 (84 510) 3861 636
In walking distance to the old town

Sea Stars Hotel ****
 1/3A Le Hong Phong Street, Ngo Quyen District , Hai Phong City
(84 31) 3556 998/988 (84 31) 3556 888

HoaHoang Anh Quy Nhon ***
 1 Han Mac Tu Street, Quy Nhon City, Binh Dinh
 (84 56) 3846 377  (84 56) 3846 926

Saigon Can Tho ***
 55 Phan Dinh Phung, Can Tho
(84 71) 3825 831 (84 71) 3823 288

Romance Hotel ****
 16 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hue
(84 54) 3 898 888 (84 54) 3 839 898

The Floating Market od Cai Be.
The Floating Market od Cai Be.
It is easy to find places where to enjoy life by night.

The old man who watched over the ducks in the rice field.
The old man who watched over the ducks in the rice field.
Hangouts you will find at every corner, just have a look around.

The graves are near the House, that one can easily visit the dead.
The graves are near the House, that one can easily visit the dead.

Ancient House – Orchard

22 – Phu Hoa Hamlet

Dong Hoa Hiep Commune – Cai Be District

Tien Gang Province, Vietnam

Tel.: 073.3824498

One can eat there and stay overnight.

Other recommendations:
Life at the Mekong
Life at the Mekong
It is a dream to go by boat through the undisturbed grottos of Halong-in-the-rice-fields near Cam Coc, the Bay of Halong with its black rocky islands; by “sampa” through the delta of the Mekong, the yellow brown river, flowing sedately to the sea, to have time for the contemplation of life, when seen from the outside, when sun is shining and silence prevails. The riverlandscape is beautiful, lush the colours. People did their morning businesses: washing the hair, doing the dishes. Houses stand on stilts. Hidden away a house from the 19th century, a fruit plantation, home industry. The floating markets of Cai Rang and Cai Be are fascinating. Such a country I have never seen before. I finally understood why the facelessness of Vietnam had so irritated me: The cause is angst, hidden crippling angst, when one looks at the overall picture. It is a traumatized country, but, giving the recent past to oblivion, is step by step wrought to participate in the developing global world.

Published on Tuesday March 8th, 2011

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Sat, Mar 19 2011 - 12:32 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Fantastic report, like all of your reports. Congratulations.

Wed, Mar 09 2011 - 06:50 PM rating by mistybleu

A sterling report; wow what experiences.

Tue, Mar 08 2011 - 09:12 PM rating by pesu

Personal and profound report - very interesting to read! Wonderful pictures! Thanks for sharing, Christl

Tue, Mar 08 2011 - 08:25 PM rating by eirekay

Wonderfully moving report! You express the distruction, both physical and emotional in a loving way. And I adore the pic of the old man who watches over the rice fields!

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