Section of Muoi Trong Nguyen's "War" painting (2015)
Vietnam, Writing

War, peace and the artist: Muoi Trong Nguyen

By Alison Bate The corpses filled the river valley, their hands stretched toward the sky. It was 1979 and Hanoi artist Muoi Trong Nguyen had been sent north to the border with China to record the war scenes for historical purposes. The fighting between China and Vietnam lasted less than a month, but in that… Continue reading War, peace and the artist: Muoi Trong Nguyen

Vietnam

In praise of roommates and random conversations

By Alison Bate My French roommate Julien is practising his Occitan, a language I'd never heard of until he moved in four months ago. Julien is from Toulouse and he showed me a beautiful YouTube video called Mon Pais, accompanied by a rousing patriotic song. The language of Occitan sounds like a cross between French… Continue reading In praise of roommates and random conversations

Travel, Vietnam

Preparing the Tet trees in Hanoi

I live in Au Co, near the orchards and flower market, and the main road right now is a manic mess of motorbikes, flower sellers on bikes, and walking and moving trees. It's just days before Tet and everyone in Hanoi is buying a kumquat tree for good luck in the coming Lunar New Year.… Continue reading Preparing the Tet trees in Hanoi

Pix motorbikes in hanoi
Travel, Vietnam

No. 132 passes the motorbike test in Hanoi

By Alison Bate I’m finally legal, after five months of zoom-zooming around Hanoi. Yesterday, I went to pick up my Vietnamese motorbike license, after a long, tortuous but entertaining ride. Like nearly everyone here in Hanoi, I’ve broken rules that I wouldn’t dream of flouting in Canada. I’ve ridden my Yamaha Nuovo daily without a… Continue reading No. 132 passes the motorbike test in Hanoi

Travel, Vietnam

Friday night in Hanoi

It’s Friday night in Hanoi and the Mausoleum is like a gigantic playground. Barefoot toddlers and pre-schoolers run around in circles, dads hoist kids on their shoulders, and moms guard strollers, teddy bears and surplus clothes. Shrieks of laughter fill the night air, a pleasant change from the impatient beep-beeps in the background from motorbikers… Continue reading Friday night in Hanoi