Memories of Vietnam
David Lamb, the author of Vietnam Now, A Reporter Returns wrote this article exclusively for the Chao Ban Newsletter for Vietnam Adoption.He spent ten years in Vietnam reporting for the Los Angeles Times.
There are many places in Vietnam I would likeand intend -- to return to one day: Dalat with its cool breezes and pleasing vistas, Can Tho with its labyrinth of waterways. I never tired of exploring Da Nang, where I could walk again at sunset along China Beach.
But if I had to choose only one place, the answer is easy. It's Hanoi. That is where I found the soul of a bygone Indochina era. It is a city of magic, certainly the most beautiful capital left in Southeast Asia. The wide tree-lined boulevards, the ceaseless activity on the teeming streets, the low, elegant skyline that hugs the shores of a dozen lakes, the graciousness and warmth of its people leave indelible memories.
During the four years I lived in Hanoi, I rode my Chinese-made bicycle to work each day. It was like biking through the living room of Hanoi because so much of life is lived on the streets. I'd pass the dikes that hold back the floods of the Red River, cut through the Old Quarter with its 36 streets named for the products merchants once produced there -- Silk Street, Coffin Street, Grilled Fish Street --and make my way to Au Lac Cafe for coffee on the patio of the old mansion once occupied by the wartime mayor of Hanoi. The charm of Hanoi is seductive.