We're staying at the Sofitel Metropole, an old colonial style hotel as good as the best hotel in any major city in the world.
|Wonderful piece in the National Art Museum|
After a short rest, we were off to explore the Hanoi; the Natural History Museum, a long rickshaw ride through the streets where the locals were celebrating Lunar (Chinese) New Year, and finally a tour through Maison Centrale, better known as the Hanoi Hilton where shot-down US pilots were held from 1964 to 1973.
|Not everyone in Hanoi uses rickshaws and scooters|
For me, the rickshaw ride was the most interesting. You get down on street level and see the locals in their own environment. Motorbikes whizzing everywhere; sellers of balloons and flags on every corner. Street vendors selling all types of food and drinks.
|Madeline with the artist Dao Anh Khanh in suburb|
After a good night's sleep, we hit the streets on our second day. Most of our day was devoted to art and artists. We started the day with a visit to the studio of Mie Hein, a very accomplished artist who is trying to marry the ancient Vietnamese technique of lacquer painting to contemporary paintings. I thought it was very creative and her figures were dreamlike in the manner of Chagall. Following the visit to her studio, she was our guide through the National Art Museum. This museum spans an enormous amount of time; from art objects and carvings from before Christ up to the present. One thing stood out to me.
It was difficult to identify a particular Vietnamese style. The country has been occupied, conquered, or partnered with so many dominant countries/peoples/cultures that it is hard to tell what was indigenous Vietnamese and what was grafted from some other culture. Their art over the last 200 years has lots of Chinese, French and Russian characteristics......China and France occupied the country for long periods of time, and Russia was their great benefactor and role model at a critical time. Not surprising that these cultural influences would find their way into the country’s art, but it will be very interesting to see how the art develops into the future, as the country has now secured its independence.
|Monument marking the spot (in the lake behind) |
where John McCain was shot down over Hanoi
|The remains of a B-52 Bomber that crashed |
into a small lake in Hanoi during the war.
Notice the name of the cafe behind the wreck.