[The final post in the series Smiling Kodiak to the Rescue]
It was my last full day in Vietnam — the first of May, International Labour Day, or May Day. It is a holiday of significance in socialist nations, and Vietnam is no exception. At six o’clock in the morning we set out for our morning constitutional around Hoan Kiem Lake. The crowds exercising around the lake had grown even bigger, the activities supplemented by a half dozen badminton games being played with real zeal.
As you would expect on a holiday honouring the worker, most businesses had closed for the day, although most retail shops were open with slightly reduced hours. We were in the market for propaganda posters, having started a small collection with some fine specimens purchased in Shanghai a few years back. Continue reading 14. Southeast Asian Rescue
Raised in the sixties, it was made clear to me that Hanoi was the bad guys, the commies, the aggressors, the domineers of the domino theory, the red menace, the yellow hordes, green with envy, blind to liberty, truth, justice and the American way. While I was years too young for the draft, the war and the draft were very much a threat to my older siblings. As with many other political and economic issues of the day, at a young age I was required to form an opinion on the matter. Mine was, “What on Earth are we doing there?”
The train from Huế reached the outskirts of Hanoi with the pre-dawn first light. Overnight only one strange man tried to enter our cabin (drat). He was foiled from proceeding past our faulty door lock by the plastic shopping bag I had rigged to create a racket in just such an eventuality. I said a quizzical “Hallo?” to the saggy-faced middle-aged man I saw through the crack. He looked shocked and angry to find me in his bed, then realised his mistake with a grunt and closed the door.
Continue reading 13. An Hanoi-ing Experience
When disaster strikes, start looking for bargains.
Mere hours after the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center, Frank was planning a visit to Manhattan. A week after the 2002 Bali bombing, our holiday in Sanur was booked. A month after George Bush The Lesser invaded Iraq, I was flying over Persia.
Callous? Insensitive? Reckless? Perhaps.
Compassionate? Thoughtful? Courageous? Maybe.
Smart? No doubt about it.
In October 2001, no one in New York City suggested our attendance was insensitive. The beleaguered restauranteurs of lower Manhattan were particularly glad to see us in their near silent bistros. Moreover, the events of 9/11 went a long way to shatter the hardened façade of New Yorkers, offering a rare glimpse of their humanity, humility, and vulnerability.
Continue reading 01. To The Rescue