A Stoic Capitol

Returning from Halong Bay the weather was even wetter and colder than before. We bundled up to explore the many sights and dine at the great restaurants for the next couple of days. After dinner on our last night we went to see the traditional water puppets theater -- a fascinating show during which the puppets are controlled by rods under water. Halfway thorugh the performance Jim's fatigued head began to bob up and down, drawing almost as much attention as the puppets.

Our bus was leaving Saigon to meet us in Hue after our flight there from Hanoi, but I had been warned they may be turned back -- no vehicles were being allowed through to Hue as sections of Highway One were heavily damaged and under repair.

The situation became gloomier when we were notified by train officials that out bikes were being bumped from the train to Hue to make room for emergency relief supplies. As the group discussed this we half-joked that we could always make it a kayak tour of Vietnam instead.

However, our intrepid group was still in high spirits and anxious to begin riding. Horst, a 63 year-old, recent Pan Am Games cycling champ couldn't wait until we reached Hue and unpacked his bike to brave the thick traffic of Hanoi. Perhaps it would be the only riding we would have for awhile? That evening finally came good news - Sinh and our bus had made it to Hue!

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During the French Colonial period, Hanoi was the capitol of all French Indochina. Today it retains much of that French occupation, most obvious in the architecture. Hundreds of villas and other French-built structures dominate the city's tree-lined boulevards.

Photographs by VeloAsia 1999

Automobile taxis have steadily begun to replace the cyclo, but they still have thier place hauling goods or for a pleasant, quiet roll through the city center. Hoan Kiem, or Lake of the Restored Sword dominates the center of Hanoi. Early each morning, elders practice tai chi, play badmiton, and greet the new day.. A gathering of older men play early morning chess on Hoan Kiem Lake.
At the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum we encounter a group of veterans touring the grounds. Horst asked this well-decorated soldier to pose with him which he was delighted to do. A sidewalk shave. Haircuts and deep ear cleaning are also available. Balcony of a house in the Old Quarter, an area of the city that has been inhabited for over a thousand years and boasts a population density higher than Calcutta..

Photographs by VeloAsia 1999 [More Photos]
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