Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi


Following up on my friend Lisa‘s suggestion, I created a Best-of page for this site today. It’s been long overdue and has been on my mind since right about the time I snapped this photo of the mausoleum of Vietnamese revolutionary hero Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi back in October 2010.

I included a link to a post about my visit to the massive mausoleum, I Wanted to Visit Ho Chi Minh Today, But he Wasn’t There, on that Best-of/Start page, which led to this one’s selection as today’s Pic du Jour, the 412th straight.

So where was he? My visit coincided with his embalmed body’s ten-week respite and annual maintenance trip to Moscow. The facelift is generally scheduled between September and mid-December, so if seeing his body is high on your bucket list, plan accordingly.

Three more photos are in the original post. More from my 2010 visit to Vietnam can be found here.



Rice fields in Vietnam's Tu Le Valley

The Vietnam Moratorium March, 45 Years Later

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the nationwide Moratorium march on Washington. It’s always a good idea to remember one of the largest anti-war protests in US history.

Upwards of 500,000 people gathered in Washington DC in opposition to the ongoing war in Vietnam. Nationwide, the BBC reported, “The Peace Moratorium is believed to have been the largest demonstration in US history with an estimated two million people involved.”

That figure was almost certainly quite higher. But not up for debate was the event’s significance in the anti-war movement as middle class and middle-aged voters turned out in large numbers for the first time.

About 45,000 US soldiers would die by in Vietnam by the end of 1969. Vietnam would suffer more than 1.1 million war-related deaths between 1965 and 1975, the period in which the US was directly involved.

Continue reading…

Singing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' at the Thanh Xuan Peace Village in Hanoi

Wars Never End – an Annual Reminder (Pic du Jour)

Today’s Pic du Jour is part of what has become an annual reminder that wars never end.

It’s from a post about an October 2010 visit —four years ago yesterday— to the Thanhxuan Peace Village, or Lang Hoa Binh Than Xuan, an orphanage, school and clinic in Hanoi set up specifically for victims of Agent Orange, which has now reached its third generation. Rarely a day passes that I don’t think about that afternoon on the fringes of the Vietnamese capital. I hope the kids are doing well.

I realize that this is fading gradually from memory into history, so a brief précis:

From 1961 through 1971, United States military forces dumped 20 million gallons, or about 80 million liters, of Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant containing an especially virulent form of dioxin, on southern Vietnam. Manufactured by Monsanto and Dow Chemical, it was housed in 55 gallon barrels adorned by orange stripes, thus its name. The operation ultimately left nearly five million people infected with dioxin. Estimates vary, but on the conservative side of things, some 150,000 Vietnamese children today live with the fallout.

Please take a few minutes to check out the rest of the post — Agent Orange’s Golden Anniversary –and as always, feel free to share.

Portrait along the Ngô Đồng River

Tam Coc Portrait

More precisely, a candid portrait, snapped from the hip as I was rowed under a bridge on the Ngô Đồng River, near the city of Nihn Binh in northern Vietnam. It’s a bit shaky, but the pleasant memory more than makes up for that.

This was taken at the very beginning of the rowing part of an trip to the Tam Cốc, or three caves, a popular day trip excursion from Hanoi. Together with this woman, this pair owned two of the most unforgettable smiles I had the pleasure of experiencing in Vietnam.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 286th straight, was snapped on 25-Oct-2010, exactly four years ago today.

Waiting for the lunch rush, Hanoi

Waiting for the Lunch Rush, Hanoi

Anyone who’s worked in the food service industry will appreciate this calm before the proverbial storm.

I like quite a bit about this image: the bright blue ‘childrens’ chairs, the woman yawning, the confident matron reading her paper, the bit of calm in an otherwise frenetic city. And the memory it provides of a fantastic lunch.

The finest street food on the planet? In my experience in 53 countries, nothing tops Vietnam. That proclamation doesn’t, however, mean that my research is anywhere close to being concluded.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 237th (!!) straight, was snapped in Hanoi on 18 October 2010. Please click on the image to see the full uncropped version.

ISO 200
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Terraced rice paddies, near Nghia Lo Vietnam


Lots of it.

This was taken about an hour north of Nghia Lo, Vietnam —itself about 200km northwest of Hanoi— during a drive towards the northern Vietnamese highlands and Sapa in October 2010. I remember seeing lots of terraced rice paddies that day. And some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen. Here’s a post from October 2010 with a few more photos from the area.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 231st (!!!) straight, was taken on 20 October 2010. Click on the image to see the full uncropped version.

Sidewalk breakfast, Hanoi, Vietnam

Breakfast With a Smile, Hanoi

The vivid memory of this woman’s smile greeted me when I woke up this morning. I have no idea what provoked it but I didn’t fight it. There are worse images that can clutter a mind when one starts the day.

The recollection left me no choice but to hunt this photo down and give it pride of place here as today’s Pic du Jour, the 191st straight (!). I spotted her at the edge of Hanoi’s Old Quarter as she was preparing breakfast for what I assume was her family. It smelled delicious. I’m sure it was, too.

Please click the image to see the full uncropped version.

Hanoi, Vietnam, 23-Oct-2010
Fisherman in Tam Coc Vietnam

Pic du Jour: Tam Coc Fisherman, Vietnam

Fisherman on the Ngô Đồng River near Tam Coc, Ninh Bihn Province, Vietnam, October 2010.




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Pineapple vendor Hanoi

Pic du Jour: Pineapple Vendor, Hanoi

Pineapple vendor Hanoi

Today’s Pic du Jour –the 75th(!) straight since this project was re-inaugurated– features a woman prepping for her morning pineapple sales route, snapped just a few minutes before she sold me my breakfast baggie.

This is for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge which asked for illustrations of Street Life. In Hanoi it starts humming at about 6 am.

Hanoi, Vietnam, 24-Oct-2010
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