Its been about a week-and-a-half since I arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam. Ha and I have been spending a lot of time together, and its been a slice of heaven so far. Ill save the mushy love stuff for later, and give an update on other things that are happening. Here are some bytes from Vietnam.
Pics and Blogs
I havent taken many pictures, because I havent gone anywhere where I havent already taken a thousand pictures. Pics from this and the last trip are located at:
Also, this and other posts can be viewed on my blog at:
Vietnam Is Not Just For Weddings Anymore
Some of you know that Im in Vietnam for many reasons other than getting married. Ill be here for a few months, and thought that I should make the best of my time. So, Ive planned for some Rotary related activities and some business opportunities too. Such activities are starting to roll out very smooth.
Working from 10,000 miles away.
Contrary to popular belief, I am not here on a long vacation. I am actually working every once in a while. I setup my equipment in Apple Valley for remote access through the Internet in order for me to continue working. I also setup an Internet phone that allows free incoming and real cheap outgoing phone calls from here to the U.S. The only hang up I had was getting Internet access to the house in a timely manner. It took a week longer than expected, but Im finally completely connected in Hanoi just like I am back home.
Meeting Chuck Searcy
Ha and I had a very good lunch with Chuck Searcy yesterday. Chuck is a Vietnam Veteran who has done some incredible things here in Vietnam. He has already been a valuable contact for potential Rotary activities. Chuck immediately came across as a very nice person with a kind heart, and has already made a lasting impression on me. I am looking forward to becoming good friends with him. We covered a lot of ground in short time, and Im expecting to meet him several times before I return home.
Not Much Traveling Yet
I had traveled several hundred miles across Vietnam in just a couple weeks during my last trip. The brunt of this trip has so far been in Hanoi for the most part, and will be this way until Ha and I take off for our honeymoon. I have traveled extensively thorough Hanoi though. There is a lot more going on here that I had thought during my first trip here.
The Worlds Largest Wal-Mart
This might be a strange way to describe a city that happens to be the capital of a communist country. Then again, I tend to see things from strange angles. The Huan Kiem District in Hanoi can be like a great big Wal-Mart. Each block or street here seems to specialize in a particular item product. You go to the computer street if you want anything for your computer. Shoes? Go to the shoe street. Books? Go to the book street. Chuck Searcy told me of a street that can be compared to a Home Depot.
Pizza in Vietnam
I wouldnt believe there was a pizza joint in Vietnam if I didnt see it myself. Whats even more amusing is they deliver. Ha claims that pizza is her favorite food, and I naturally had to find out why. Ha and I went to Pepperonis on our first pizza date a few nights ago. The pizza was a little different from American style, and was pretty good.
Where the Heck Am I?
I know Ev Butcher is waiting for travel coordinates so he can follow me with Google Earth (http://earth.google.com). I havent gone anywhere yet, but I dont want to leave Ev without anything to do. So heres the coordinates of my house in Hanoi:
Lat 21° 1’52.25″N
The satellite pics dont show the tennis courts behind the house.
The Wedding and Marriage Debacle
Several of you wrote expressing confusion regarding the status of my marriage, so let me clarify everything. Ha and I have been legally married since last Monday. Our wedding will be on November 12th. For those of you who wanted to know if we consummated the marriage, I will say that the gifts were passed out, but the presents havent been unwrapped yet.
That’s going to have to do for now. Ha has a honey-do list for me to finish before we go to bed. Write back with questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them tomorrow.
Dan Harley, Jr.
My wife’s gallivanting around town somewhere, which gives me another opportunity to write a few more things about what’s been happening here.
I want to thank everyone who has written to me so far. It is always endearing to hear from everyone back home, and several of you have really touched my heart. I have read some very heartwarming things that brought tears to my eyes. Thank you very much.
Some of you are wondering what the heck is going on with this funky E-mail that you’ve received from me. That’s because I just added you to my mailing list, and you’re about to share my journey through Vietnam over the next couple months. You and everyone else can catch up on what’s happened on my blog, which I will discuss a little later. But first… What’s Happened So Far?
I arrived at Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi) with my Uncle Hung last Thursday morning (Wednesday for most of you) after an uneventful, but somewhat annoying set of flights from LAX through Taipei, Taiwan that took about 18 hours to complete. The annoying part of the trip was the rude flight attendants on China Airlines. I believe China Air should consider replacing their flight attendants with vending machines, because vending machines don’t talk and therefore will not annoy their passengers like their flight attendants do.
We were greeted at the airport by my Uncle Bui, Aunt Ha Bui, cousin Cun and my beloved fiancee’ Ha. Ha and I have seen each other only over the Internet since December. My heart was pounding out of my chest when I finally got to hold her again. Words cannot accurately describe how wonderful that moment was for both of us.
This trip will be much different from my last trip in just about every aspect, and that includes accommodations. My family has rented a house in Hanoi for a few months, and we went to it right away. The place is in the Huan Kiem District, which is the epicenter of Hanoi, about 1/2 block East of the Red River and about a kilometer West of Huan Kiem Lake. Basically, it’s within walking distance to most of the popular areas of interest in Hanoi.
I took several cat naps during the flight to avoid jet lag, while my Uncle Hung decided to stay up the full 18 hours. Subsequently, my Uncle hit the bed and was out till the next morning, while Ha and I started right away in making up for lost time. We have numerous things to do in preparation for our wedding, and done so many things in a week’s time that everything seems to be a blur. Well.. With exception of one thing.
On Monday, Ha, her Dad, her older Brother and two of my uncles traveled to Tuyen Quang. This is a town province about 60 km North of Hanoi. It took about 4 hours to get there, but was well worth the effort. That’s where Ha and I obtained our marriage certificate after signing some papers and a short ceremony at the Town government center. So, Ha and I are now legally married or I just joined the Army of the People’s Republic of Vietnam (the document’s in Vietnamese, and they could be enlistment papers for all I know).
My wife’s back, and we’re supposed to do some dinner thing tonight. So, I gotta go again…
This is the start of E-mail posts for my trip to Vietnam starting October 19, 2006.
I've been getting lots of E-mails and calls since I arrived
in Hanoi a week ago, and I figured that I better write back
before I get too busy again.
In case you're wondering why you are receiving this, you're
family, friend or an associate of mine that I've included
into a mailing list to receive updates of my travels through
Vietnam. This is my second trip to Vietnam in recent times.
My previous trip late last year was shared with my Rotary
Club when I regularly sent E-mails back home to them. This
made the trip much more interesting, because I suddenly had
about 100 of my friends along with me through my journeys.
This trip is going to be much more exciting, at least for me,
because I'm here to get married. I'm also here to do some
Rotary related work and I may even make a buck or two if I'm
lucky. The dynamics of this trip is quite different, and not
just because I'm getting married. I was basically on a
vacation during my last trip, while I'm actually living here
this time. I will be here until after Christmas, and will be
staying in Hanoi and Saigon for significant amount of time.
I hate to cut this first e-mail short, but my wife and I
have a date to eat pizza tonight. I will catch up on
everything as soon as I can.
This is the last of a series of E-mails that i sent during my trip to Vietnam in late 2005.
Original post date: 21 Dece 2005
I arrived Sunday afternoon and trying toget past the jet lag. I’m still having problems with speaking English in short choppy sentances.The trip was incredible to say the least. It was without a doubt the trip of a lifetime. I have memories and stories to last several lifetimes.
One of the best things about the trip was being able to communicate with everyone back home every once in a while. I thought that I would be cut off from everyone here until I returned. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. I want to thank everyone who sent E-mails to me while I was gone. It was great to hear from you and especially receiving all the questions while I was traveling. I’ve compiled answers to some of the questions here:
How do the Vietnamese feel about Americans?
This was by far the most asked question and my own most concerning question before I arrived in Hanoi. I was especially concerned about how the Vietnamese treat half-breeds, such as myself, because I’ve heard terrible stories about those similar to me who were left in Vietnam after the war ended.
Dan Harley, Jr.
This is another of a series of E-mails that I sent back to my friends in America during my trip through Vietnam in late 2005.
Original post date: 13 Dec 2005
I'm finally in Saigon and will be here for the rest of
my trip. It's been a little tough trying to get to an
Internet cafe' here. This might be the last time you
hear from me while I'm in Vietnam so I'll make the
best of this message.
I was shocked as to what I had seen in Hanoi when I
first arrived there. My shock is doubled here in
Saigon. There is a huge difference between here and
the North in just about every aspect. It's like being
in another country. I'm glad that I visited Hanoi
first, because I wouldn't appreciate the difference as
much if I didn't.
I arrived at Tan Son Nhut airport a couple nights ago,
and was driven throught the brunt of Saigon on the way
to where I am staying. There a so many lights, and so
many things going on here. Comparing Saigon to Hanoi
would be like comparing Las Vegas to Sacramento
(Saigon being Las Vegas).
The natives in Saigon are more like me in size. Most
are in pretty good shape, but there are many that are
fat like I was (I think I lost 10-15 pounds so far on
this trip). The differences between North and South
people go much further than that.
The people in the South for the most part don't care
for communism or Ho Chi Minh while the people in the
North seem to be brainwashed to think the opposite.
One of my aunts indicates that the South don't believe
that Ho Chi Minh actually won the war, but rather the
American stopped fighting. Many still call this city
Saigon instead of Ho Chi Minh City. If you could see
what I've seen, you would question if the South
actually lost the war.
The lifestyle is much more open and less stuffy than
the North. It is difficult to describe this without
seeing it firsthand. You can sense freedom here where
you didn't sense it as much in Hanoi.
If there is such a thing as a Northern or Southern
Vietnamese, I would certainly be a Southern boy. I can
easily blend in here where I stood out like I was
wearing a bright green T-shirt in Hanoi.
The economy in the South is much better and more
active than the North. There are a lot more cars,
newer scooters and better drivers here. Saigon has an
incredible skyline with new high rise buildings being
built in droves. There is a lot more European style
accomodations which is better suited for American
travel. I feel much safer being an American in Saigon
than in Hanoi.
Some of you know that I started school in Saigon. I
attended a private school that I will try to find
before I leave. The reason for being in Saigon is
mostly for business, and I won't be spending as much
time being a tourist as I had in the North. I will do
my best to capture as many pictures as I can though.
It looks like I have to go right now. I'll do my best
to write again before I head back to the states. My
other E-mail account is flooded right now, so send you
questions and comments to me at ###.####.
This is another of several E-mails that I sent home during my last trip through Vietnam.
Original post date: 7 Dec 2005
I'm not really in Laos, but we got close enough to
throw a rock into it today.
The family, Ha (my girlfriend) and I had spent all
yesterday viewing all the sites in Hue. I took
hundreds of pictures, and will try to send some when I
get back to Hanoi.
We've been heading back to Hanoi, and stopped at an
open market where everything under the sun was being
sold. I picked up a pair of Nike running shoes for $7.
Ha thinks the shoes are fake. Nonetheless, I now have
a new pair of sneakers to wear while in Vietnam. This
market is very close to Laos.
We stopped at the DMZ, and seen the memorials there. I
took some historic pictures of my three uncles near a
bridge that oficially seperated the North and South.
All them served in the war, and I'll tell everyone
some interesting information about them when I get
We stopped in a village for the night. I'm not sure
where I am right now, but there's an Internet cafe
I should be in Hanoi tomorrow, and able to use my own
computer for a change. This wll make it easier for me
to send pics from here. Check your inbox for this!
This is another E-mail sent home during my trip to Vietnam in late 2005.
Original post date: 5 dec 2005
I'm still alive, and have traveled a lot more since my
Several of you have written back with some great
questions. A big hello to Chuck and Anthea in Austin!
A concern that most of you have is how do the
Vietnamese in the area that I'm visiting think about
Some of my stay was in a province called Thai Binh.
This area is about 60 kilometers South of Hanoi and
similar to the Victor Valley in size and population.
During the war, this area was bombed heavily. If there
would be any issue with Americans, it would be in this
area. I was greeted with nothing but kindness and had
absolutely no problems whatsoever being an American
I took a tour through Ha Long Bay & Cat Ba Island.
This area is an incredible sight. Words can't
accurately describe how beautiful it is. Yesterday, I
took a hike through the jungles of Cat Ba Island, and
almost died two or three times. My new girlfriend
saved my life.
I'm currently in Hue, which is the historic capital of
Vietnam during previous dynasties. There is an
emperor's palace similar to the Chinese which I will
be visiting tomorrow. I also have lots of family
around here that haven't been in contact for several
The Internet cafe here is about to close for the
night, so I need to go. Send your questions or
comments to ###.####.
Bye for now...