Woodworking in Vietnam

Scenes from Vietnam

It would be a shame to go to Vietnam, take a bunch of pictures, have them digitalized, place them on a website and yet only show tools! There are many wonderous sights in Vietnam, along with unusual scents and unmistakable noises. And while I can't convey the sounds of the motorbikes and honking cars that will forever be associated in my mind with Vietnam, I can offer you a few images from my Vietnamese memories.

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Traffic in Hanoi's Old Quarter. Even a few years ago, bicycles dominated the streets. Now, the two-wheeled traffic is mostly made up of motorbikes. It's not unusual to see whole families, or a bunch of giggling teenagers reading fashion magazines, all on one bike. The traffic can be intimidating to pedestrians accustomed to traffic lights and signs, but it has its own logic. Just walk steadily and don't make any sudden moves. The government is now trying to phase out the quaint xichlo (cyclo), a rickshaw-like vehicle popular with tourists. Cars are pretty rare, though within a few years, this too will likely change. Many drivers honk their horns continuously while driving to let the cyclists know to make way. No one seems to think walking is a good way to get around. When I would attempt to walk around, I'd be told that destinations 15 minutes away were "too far" to walk. Xicho drivers and taxi motorcyclists would constantly accost me. Only by pointing at my sturdy walking shoes - most Vietnamese people wear plastic slippers - would I convince them that I was a serious pedestrian.
Part of the Forebidden Purple City in Hue, once the imperial capital of Vietnam. Because Hue is located in Central Vietnam, it got hit from all sides during some of the deadliest fighting of Vietnam's wars. The Purple City is now being rebuilt. This area, so far unrepaired, is overgrown by vegetation in parts, with some of the land settled into rice paddies. All around the the Purple City are walls riddled with bullet holes which give a silent testimony to the ferocity of the fighting the city faced.
Market scene at the Cho Dong Ba (Dong Ba Market) in Old Hue, near where the Dong Ba Canal joins the Perfume River. I strongly recommend the markets to anyone with an interest in Vietnamese food or culture. The vendor in this picture is mixing a basket of chili peppers.
Southeast Asia is home to some of the most magnificent fruit in the world. Sadly, once you return home you will probably not be able to indulge your new passion for mangosteen, sapodilla or custard apples. Here, a store near the Hom market in Hanoi sells dragon fruit, pomelo and other luscious fruit.
A commonplace scene in Southeast Asia: a stack of young coconuts ready for sale.
A stonecarver prepares a tombstone. On other streets, a casket builder and flower arranger may work side by side preparing for a funeral. Tombstones may contain pictures of the deceased along with a full complement of text, with little unused space left over.

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