Tag: photography (page 1 of 7)

Send Wendy Walking: a trip to Mayfair

Dear Karen,

Last week I went on a tour of Mayfair, the posh part of London, together with my friend, Heather.  Yep, this is another episode in the series of Send Wendy Walking.

Continue reading

iPhone less than perfect? Shock, horror!

Dear Karen,

Yesterday, I finally did it.  I stopped using my iPhone5. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Lars!

Dear Karen,

Today is Lars’ 60th birthday.  On 14 August, Lars Lykke was born, weighing in at 2.5kg and 45 cm long. Continue reading

Our holiday in Great Britain

Dear Karen,

Our holiday is over now, and all there is to do now, is look back and remember every laugh, every meal, every soft bed and every wrong turn we made in the past week.

Holidays have a way of turning serious, driven adults into children again, don’t they?  We charge through most of the year with our eye on the ball and our nose to the grindstone; having a vacation gives us respite from being grown-ups, even if just for a few days. Continue reading

A visit to Hanoi

Dear Karen,

Have I told you about our visit to Hanoi?

We were living in Hong Kong in 2008, and had no plans for the summer.  Usually we’d fly to Canada or to Europe, but that year, I decided we’d do something different.  “We’ll go to Hanoi and then to Tokyo”, I told the family.

It was our Summer of the Cities ending in Vowels…owels…owels…

We’d booked 2 rooms at the Sofitel Metropole; what a thrill to discover, on arrival, that we’d been upgraded to the top floor, which included free breakfast, afternoon tea, and…wait for it…a butler.  Per room.  This poor woman didn’t know what to do with us.  We didn’t need her to unpack for us, or polish our shoes or check our food for poison.  She tried so desperately to buttle us, and oh, how we wished to be buttled, but I fear we were just too boringly middle class.

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Here I am, displaying my boringly middle classness. In a tub.

After unpacking while our butler stood by smiling grimly, we went out to explore the city.  Very near our hotel is a beautiful lake.  We got up early every morning to run round it, hoping to offset the calories we’d eaten and imbibed the day before.

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Hồ Hoàn Kiếm. The centre of the lake.

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Same lake as above, this was within a 10 minute walk of our hotel.

Our hotel reminded me a lot of other elegant colonial hotels I’ve been in:  The Empress, Raffles, the Peninsula.  Once we set foot outside though, the vibrant street life of downtown Hanoi was buzzing with an energy seen only in crowded Asian cities.  This place was hopping!

 

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Powdered paint for sale.

 

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We need at least one embarrassing tourist photo, otherwise it didn’t happen.

Crossing the street became a game of Vietnamese Roulette:  Lars would lead the way, checking over his right shoulder, seeing a hole in the traffic and boldly taking his first step off the curb.  Michael and I would shuffle behind him, thinking if one of us got hit, the other two would keep the injured one upright until we got to the other side.  With no apparent slowing down or veering, the traffic managed to avoid us.

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These motorcyclists are actually stopped for a red light – alert the media!

 

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We had to take a rickshaw ride, just once! Certain family members were embarrassed. Not I.

We walked all round the city.  It was hot, about 30 degrees each day, but with plenty of stops at restaurants for cooling drinks, we were fine.  You soon learn to avoid the hottest hours of day when you’re in the tropics.  We spent most afternoons huddled in the tea room upstairs, swilling back fruit-and-alcohol-laden drinks and eating scones and sandwiches.  And taking dumb pictures.

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Mummy got her drinkie!

A visit to Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and I was determined we’d spend the night on a purpose-built junk, sailing around the islands.  We set off early one morning and came home late the next evening.  I felt like we were inside a postcard, one that was so beautiful, it just had to be fake.

 

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Ha Long Bay

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Lounging on our junk. We were 3 of 5 passengers that weekend.

 

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Boozing it up on the junk.

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All the junks come to the beach to drop off passengers.

 

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The people who live here never touch foot on solid ground. They truly live on the water.

 

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Selling us oyster shells and beads. She couldn’t speak English so we bartered in French instead. She totally whipped my ass.

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See the look of total panic (and sweat) on my face? That’s because I’m about a million miles underground, in a freaking cave.

 

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Sweet, blessed relief! And hey, doesn’t this look like we’re posing in front of a screen? It’s impossible to take a bad photo in Ha Long Bay.

Meanwhile, back in Hanoi…

Because we had a teenage boy with us, a trip to the Military Museum was in order.  There, we learned about Dien Bien Phu and the American War, as it’s called in Vietnam.  A fascinating visit, and I highly recommend spending the afternoon there.

 

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An exhibit showing the most important thing a soldier had in the war: a bicycle.

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There are so many tanks, helicopters, airplanes and cannons (yes, that right) in the museum. People wander about take a close look at them all.

We visited  Maison Centrale.

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Such an innocent name for what was a prison and place of torture.  Built by the French in 19th century, it housed Vietnamese prisoners of war:

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Models of Vietnamese prisoners in Maison Centrale.

Of course, most Americans would know this as the Hanoi Hilton, the name given by American Prisoners of War during the 1960s and 70s.  Most famously, John McCain spent time there as well.

I get told off by a guard

Lars and Michael played golf one day, leaving me to my own devices.  I spent it wisely, going to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to visit Uncle Ho.  Of course, he’s kind of dead now, but I queued up to get a look at him lying in state, before being herded along by the guards.  It was so cold inside the bowels of the building, that I hugged myself to stay warm.  Immediately a guard began poking me sharply on the arm, telling me with hand gestures:  no hugging!  No!  Apparently it’s disrespectful to hug yourself in the presence of their national hero.  Good to know.

 

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The only photo I was able to take of Uncle Ho’s resting place.  No hugging!

 

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Gravestones are sold on the street. This one has a photo of Britney Spears as the recently deceased, for some reason.

We loved our time in Hanoi.  In so many ways, it reminded us how Hong Kong used to feel, before it got all sophisticated and modern.  I’d love to go back again, to see what, if anything, has changed.

Somehow, I bet the motorbikes will still be there.

Love,
Wendy

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