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Vietnam: Hanoi Beginnings

April 29, 2012 (Sunday) – As I have explained, the stated reason Zabine Van Ness and I are in Vietnam is that the Hanoi Baha’i community, on the 20th anniversary of its founding, wanted to honor Zabine for her role in that seminal event.

That “stated” reason is of course their reason – and a good reason it is indeed. But it isn’t Zabine’s reason for accepting the invitation. She came here with the hope that she could assist and empower the Vietnamese friends today, perhaps even more than she did in the past. “The celebration is about the last [...]

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Historic, Healing Heartsongs

April 29, 2012 (Sunday) – Simple acts of kindness are miraculously effective at bridging deep divides. Among the many miracle workers we have met in Hanoi are Michael Orona; his wife, Selena; and their three children.

These beautiful Baha’i souls made history at the 20th Anniversary celebration of the founding of the Hanoi Baha’i community. There’s still a lot more other news and photography in the pipeline, so please stay tuned. But I could not wait to post the video below. The stage performance it depicts took my breath away because, as I was recording it, its significance suddenly struck [...]

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Vietnam Rice Dance

April 29, 2012 (Sunday) — Today is the big day of our trip, the reason we came: the 20th anniversary celebration of the founding of Hanoi’s Baha’i community.

I have a lot of notes and photos to document this milestone and will upload them Any Day Now. But while I’m organizing, please enjoy this video of the performance which opened the celebration. It’s a traditional Vietnamese “rice dance”, performed by a group of young women that includes Huyen, one of the two who guided Zabine and me during our second-day outing.

This video found its way onto YouTube minutes after [...]

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A Colorful Hanoi Drive

One of my striking impressions of Vietnam is how colorful everything is. This is no coincidence, nor is it just a fact about tropical nature. It extends to human artifacts of all kinds. This seems to reflect a deep national and cultural attraction to beauty.

There are many other counties where this is far less true. Places where, despite sometimes stunning natural beauty, people seem otherwise content with relatively bland surroundings. Having visited and lived in some of those places, I never understood why. Perhaps that’s why I’m feeling so at home here.

The photos below are mostly from a [...]

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Vietnam Day Three

April 28, 2012 (Saturday) – This morning, Zabine had a wonderful and completely unexpected encounter with Rosalie Huibonhua, a Baha’i Continental Counselor. Her areas of responsibility include China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and other Asian countries. She is here, of course, to attend the celebration of the Hanoi Baha’i community’s 20th anniversary.

We met her at the home of a member of the Vietnam Baha’i national governing body. Although it seemed like a chance meeting, I don’t really believe in luck. Zabine and Rosalie, it turns out, share a common vision regarding social action and spiritual education. The Counselor instantly [...]

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Second Day Vietnam Photos

Some representative photos from our second day in Vietnam.

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Eat, Pray, Love, Shop (Vietnam Style)

April 27, 2012 (Friday) – Having enjoyed our motorcycle ride, we were set for a busy day.

First, we sat in on a committee meeting at the home of a Baha’i friend, met many members of the Baha’i community, along with a visiting Counselor, George Saroya, from Indonesia. Lunch at an outdoor noodle cafe. Delicious food. Did I mention that I am not normally adventurous with unfamiliar cuisine? So far, however, I’ve enjoyed all kinds of new dishes I don’t recognize, can’t pronounce, and that taste unlike anything I recall. It’s turning out to be a treat, not a [...]

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Hanoi from the Handlebars

April 27, 2012 (Friday) – Our busy day started with an unexpected treat – motorcycle rides for Zabine and me. We knew that Baha’i friends were coming by to pick us up, and I suppose we expected a van or car or something. But the most normal mode of transport in Hanoi seems to be the motorcycle, so it was our time to be initiated.

Major streets in Hanoi are narrower than those in Ho Chi Minh City. There are good lane markings when there’s no construction going on – but there is a lot of construction.

Nevertheless, motorcycle [...]

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Vietnam Arrival

April 25, 2012 (Wednesday) – We are now in Hanoi. Considering my many (mis)adventures with travel, domestic and foreign, the trip here was amazingly smooth and stress-free. Well, as stress-free as 18 or so hours on an airplane can be.

We landed in Seoul, Korea (Incheon Airport) right on schedule (okay, a couple of minutes late). The first thrill was discovering that our cell phones could connect to the airport’s free wifi hotspot. So I texted, then called, my beloved Cheri. Actually heard her voice (though what that voice was saying was that she couldn’t hear mine very well). Zabine [...]

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Vietnam Journey Unfolding

April 24, 2012 — Zabine and I are in flight –Asiana Airlines– somewhere between Seattle and Seoul. We’ve travewled 1550 of our 5210-mile total;our altitude is 36,000 feet, ground speed 532 miles per hour, and current outside air temperature — a balmy minus-70 degrees F. (Guess if I get too hot, I can always go perch on the wing!)

Sense of time, utterly mixed up. Between Knoxville, my home, and Hanoi, our ultimate destination, the time difference is 12 hours. (But does Daylight Saving Time factor in, and how?) Twixt Seattle and Hanoi, 15 hours –at least that’s what the [...]

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