Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Photo Albums on Blogger

I started doing this blog in 2012 while in Mexico.

I really didn't like what I had seen in other sailing blogs because they were too much based on drama.  It seemed like every day, there was a different drama unfolding like dragging at anchor, breaking something, bad weather, etc.

I do not like to get sucked into drama and instead wondered why not discuss anchoring techniques, fixing things, or discussing how not to get in bad weather.

Dave Kane on LIGHTSPEED had a blog that I really liked and was like a mentor on writing a good blog.

Sailors like to keep logs of their journeys, myself included.  I used to upload photos to Google Picasa.  This was a photo album site back in those days that people could link to, or look at, to see what it was like to be out cruising.  No drama, no writing, just photos.

These albums date back to 2008 when we were in St. Maarten and cover our trip down the eastern Caribbean, southern Caribbean, the entire trip up to the Bahamas, to New Jersey, back down the US coast to Key West, the western Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, and Central America.

These albums used to be linked on this blog by a thing that Google calls a widget.  Well, Google has removed Picasa and it's now called Google Photos.  However, now the widget link doesn't work and there is no widget for Google Photos.  Go figure?

So,    thanks to some smart HTML coding people, there is a hack that you can use to put Google Photo Albums on Google Blogger.

I will explain this hack in the next post but for now, these albums have been resurrected under the heading tab named "Photo Albums".

Give them a look-see to get a feel for our 'missing' early cruising years of 2008-2012.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Hanoi Hilton

The front entrance
Leg irons and sleeping area

No trip to Hanoi for an American would be complete without a visit to see the Hỏa Lò Prison or what was sarcastically referred to as the Hanoi Hilton.  The prison is now a museum.  


The name 'Maison Centrale' in French means Central House.  This is where the most dangerous prisoners were housed.

Like the Opera House, it was built over a hundred years ago.   It held political dissidents who opposed French colonization.


Electric wire and broken glass atop the wall

The conditions during the French rule were extremely brutal.  Prisoners were packed into small rooms and bound with chains and rebar leg irons.  The conditions reminded us of our visit to the Khmer Rouge S-21 prison in Phnom Penh described in a previous blog.  There was torture and even a Guillotine on site.  Much of this remains today in the museum.

This is the real deal.  Left by the French

In 1945, there was a famous escape right out of the movie Shawshank Redemption where 16 death row prisoners cut a hole in a sewer pipe and escaped. 


They later became independence leaders and later officials of the newly formed government. 


The sewer pipe used in the 1945 escape

During the Vietnam War, American pilots were held here for interrogation and internment.


The most famous prisoner here was Senator John McCain.  There are storyboards displayed showing that the pilots were treated very well and that their activities were like those at summer camp.   

Anti-American Propaganda


We know from debriefings from released prisoners that it is total propaganda.  There was torture and harsh conditions but not as bad as when the french ran the place.

See how much fun it was to be a POW

They even have a flight suit displayed that is claimed to be John McCain’s even though he said that his was shredded from his ejection and that it was cut off of him by the medics because of his injuries. 


They probably just bought a flight suit on ebay. 

The John McCain Storyboard

Much of the prison has been torn down replaced by apartments.  The only original part that remains is the museum.


More Propaganda


The apartments that replaced much of the prison






Wednesday, April 17, 2019

'My Village' at the Hanoi Opera House

The Hanoi Opera House

The Hanoi Opera House was built over a hundred years ago during the Vietnam’s French Colonial period.

French Architecture
It is on the east side of the giant “Square of August Revolution” six road roundabout.  (August, 14 1945 was when the revolution against the French was launched by Ho Chi Minh)

We went to see the show “My Village” sometimes referred to as the Bamboo Cirque de Soleil.

The play was a story about ancient Vietnamese Village Life.  The entire set was constructed from bamboo poles that were remade multiple times into different structures that the actors/dancers/acrobats would use.

It was a fun and interesting night into the culture of Vietnam.

The Cast

Monday, April 15, 2019


Hanoi Old Quarter Map We thought we could do a grand tour of Vietnam on the way home to the US.  We wanted to take the train from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Hanoi and see all the places in between.


No Significant Landmarks

Big mistake.  Just that train ride is over a thousand miles and it would have taken weeks to do it justice.

Instead, we chose to focus on Hanoi for a week since Hanoi is less urban unlike the business metropolis of Ho Chi Minh.

We stayed in the Old Quarter which is really the tourist district.  Restaurants are plentiful and so are the scams.  

Even the cars just turn an push their way through
It would be very easy to get lost in Hanoi since everything looks the same and in the beginning we had no landmarks.  We’re not very good city dwellers.  But after a day, the layout became more user friendly.

A little park along Hoan Kiem Lake
The Turtle Tower in Hoan Kiem Lake
The traffic on the other hand is crazy.  There are no breaks in the traffic so you start walking across and hope that the herd of motorcycles will go around you which they usually do.  You never stop nor turn around in the street because the motorcyclists have already planned there route to avoid you and they don’t have time for last minute corrections.

Hoan Kiem Lake is a significant landmark when walking south.  It is surrounded by grassy park areas and street side bars and restaurants.  It is really quite beautiful for a city.

It's about a mile long and provides a refuge of sanity from the crazy traffic while walking around the town.