Tag Archives: Hanoi

Hoa Lo – Hanoi’s dark side


Hanoi HiltonI recently heard an NPR radio program that made me think back to my trip to Hanoi. For me Hanoi was an unexpected discovery, a place full of life and charm. But that was not my original association – and it’s not for most people who upon hearing “Hanoi” think solely about the dark days of Vietnam War (or American War as it is called in Vietnam). The radio story was about a former American fighter pilot, John Borling, who was one of the prisoners of war (POWs) released in 1973 after almost seven years of captivity. He spent these long years in what POWs ironically called “Hanoi Hilton” – the infamous Hoa Lo prison. Read the rest of this entry


A walk though Hanoi


Hanoi millennium

A friend has just returned from Vietnam with hundreds (literally!) amazing pictures and memories that made me think back to my own trip there in October 2010. My first stop was Hanoi and it was a very special time to be there since that month the city celebrated the millennium of its founding. That anniversary was really hard to miss given signs and banners hanging all around to proclaim Hanoi’s 1000 years – 1000 năm. From these signs I also learned the Vietnamese spelling of the city’s name: Hà Nội, which means “between rivers” i.e. in the Red River delta, and its former name Thăng Long, or “Rising Dragon.” Before this trip my image of Hanoi was rather bleak. I didn’t really know anything about it but pictured a drab, gray, repressed, somewhat sinister Stalinist-style place. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, the first thing that struck me was Hanoi’s intimate, human scale. Read the rest of this entry