Women’s Museum, Hanoi

Vietnamese Women’s Museum is located in Hanoi, in Ly Thuong Kiet Street, near the central Hoan Kiem Lake and the old quarter. This is the most ancient street in the capital city, with many French-style buildings, foreign embassies, hotels and government offices. …

The mission of the museum is to enhance public knowledge and understanding of history and cultural heritage of Vietnamese women by collecting, preserving and introducing exhibits through object collection, historical anthropology approach, diverse and multi-directional reflection of women’s issues in historical and contemporary life … promoting gender equality. …

In 2012, Vietnamese Women’s Museum was ranked “One of the best attractions in Hanoi in 2012” by TripAdvisor – one of the most prestigious world tourist websites. In 2013, TripAdvisor continued to include Vietnamese Women’s Museum in the top 25 most interesting museums in Asia.

street vendor

I’d concur. The most moving section is right at the beginning, photos and video of Hanoi street vendors. All have the same story – they’d much rather be home in the village, but felt forced to move to the city to supplement family income.

Click PLAY or watch it on Vimeo. (54min)

Another floor I found laughable. Fierce women at war. Warriors.

Vietnam is still a totalitarian State. That exhibit is propaganda. I’m betting 99.99% of Vietnamese women hated the war. And cared only for the welfare of their family.

Oddly, I was unable to find the Men’s Museum in Hanoi. :-)

Sapa, Vietnam

Tourist love this Hill Station, first developed by the French.

Sapa mapThe first permanent French civilian resident arrived in Sa Pa in 1909. With its attractive continental climate, health authorities believed the site had potential. By 1912 a military sanatorium for ailing officers had been erected along with a fully fledged military garrison. Then, from the 1920s onwards, several wealthy professionals with enough financial capital also had a number of private villas built in the vicinity. …

Sa Pa is a quiet mountain town and home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. The total population of 36,000 consists mostly of minority groups. …

I happened to arrive on a Sunday morning, a real market day for the surrounding villages.

Market Sapa

Before the 1990s, the town’s economy was mainly based on small size agriculture.

Tourist arrival between 1995 and 2003 grew from a total of 4,860 to 138,622. On average, 79% of the visitors are Vietnamese and 21% are foreigners. …

Those that were here before you, all tell that Sapa has been ruined by tourism.

Tourists create trash. The town of Sapa does not know how to dispose of it. That’s clear.

en route to visit the rice terraces

en route to visit the rice terraces

I loved it, as I love all Hill Stations. Especially the lake.




The Communist Vietnamese government continued with the faded yellow French architecture. I find it charming.




Animal lovers will be horrified, however.




The life of many animals in Asia is harsh.

Mostly I wandered the town, avoiding touts, checking to see what regular people are up to. The Cathedral and plazas are entertaining.




Tourists love Sapa. Even if many of the young have abandoned the fields to chase tourists.


My only other big complaints about Sapa are the smoking. And the motorcycle culture.

Tourists can rent crappy bikes for as little as $5. :-(

more photos

Sapa Unique Hotel

This might just be my favourite hotel of all time. (I’ve stayed in thousands of hotels.)

As I’m doing constantly these days, I found the Sapa Unique Hotel on Trip Advisor.

$35 / night single is far more than I normally pay in Asia. But the Unique was well worth it.

Here’s the view from the balcony terrace.

Sapa Unique balcony

On arrival, you’ll find the bedspread and bathroom shower scattered with flower petals.



In a tourist trap town where it’s near impossible to get information, front desk staff are helpful and thoughtful answering questions. They sent me to the most reputable trekking agency in town, unlike the official government tourist information office.

Before bed, they surprise guests with fruit or caramelized bananas drizzled with chocolate. What a treat.

If you are departing on a night bus or train, they pack you a snack for the trip.

Even better, they keep a room free so guests can take a shower at the end of day before climbing on to the sleeper bus.

Thank you Sapa Unique Hotel. :-)

Peter Hessler – driving in China

Peter Hessler (born June 14, 1969) is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of three acclaimed books about China

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze 2001

Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present 2006

Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory


I read his third book while in China. It’s excellent. Hessler does a terrific job of painting a picture of how China has changed since he first arrived 1996 with the Peace Core.

Emulating the USA, China built many roads before the population had cars to drive them.

Chinese road

Surprisingly, the stories of what happens to him while driving rent-a-cars across the new roads of the emerging nation are fascinating and informative.

Every Province is different. Every town within a Province is different. And every Chinese citizen he meets is a unique individual with their own story.

So different than the simplistic stereotypes assumed by myself and most other westerners.

In 2011, Hessler received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in recognition and encouragement of his “keenly observed accounts of ordinary people responding to the complexities of life in such rapidly changing societies as Reform Era China.

Those 3 books are highly recommended for anyone visiting China.

Maura Elizabeth Cunningham, in 2010, posted a review of all the writing by foreigners who have lived and traveled in China. She rates Hessler high.

Vietnam – adventurous eating

Bun Bo Nam Bo

Finally, an eatery in Vietnam where I’d be proud to bring Anthony Bourdain.

street front

It’s a cheapo, yet ranked #11 of 943 Restaurants in Hanoi.

Always crowded, this hole in the wall in the old quarter pretty much sells one dish. Rice noodles with beef in broth.


Roasted peanuts, bean sprouts. A few other things.


As I entered, I just held up one finger, meaning … ‘one bowl’.


Mine wasn’t spicy. But you can add Soy and Chili to taste.

missing Glen Campbell

The Country Music Hall of Fame member … was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011

… video for the final song he’ll ever record — “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” It was recorded in 2013 …

Click PLAY or watch it on VEVO.

Because of the progression of the disease, the 78-year-old Campbell was admitted to a special care facility in Nashville in April. …

Glen Campbell releases powerful final song and video

Are we no closer to solving Alzheimer’s? :-(