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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, May 3, 2014: Metropole Hotel, Hanoi


 Metropole Hotel, interior courtyard.


I’m a huge fan of colonial ambiance.  I speak of an esthetic and not the politics of colonialism.  I love the way buildings look that were built by Europeans in their colonies, mostly in tropical Asia.  Think Indochine.  I’ve spent a great deal of my travel life pursuing the feeling I get in these places.  India, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma, Laos, Hong Kong & Macau come to mind, and Morocco.  


My only experience staying in a grand colonial-era hotel was when I arrived in Delhi on my first trip to India.  It was the Maidens Hotel, north of Old Delhi and Mr. Oberoi’s first hotel.  It was relatively small and the service was delightfully personal.  It was everything I’d hoped for and when I returned for an unplanned second week’s stay, I was given an enormous suite, much to my amazement.  It gave me a glimpse of how the other half lives, if they’re lucky.



 Metropole Hotel, cafe society.


The Metropole opened in 1901 and writers with Asian associations, Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene, stayed there while writing iconic stories.  Jane Fonda and Joan Baez also stayed while protesting the Vietnam War.  I guess protest need not be uncomfortable.


Hanoi was a place I’d wanted to visit for a long time, for it’s vestiges of colonial architecture and the Hotel Metropole in particular.  I can’t afford to stay in this beautiful place but I was allowed to wander unhindered through it taking pictures.  When my ship comes in I plan to stay there.  But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy looking at it like others I've seen, among them the Strand in Rangoon, the Eastern & Oriental in Penang, Raffles in Singapore, and the Peninsula in Hong Kong, maybe have tea or lunch and feel very lucky to be there.



Metropole Hotel, carriage entrance.




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I too am a fan of Colonial era hotels.  The only ones I've ever stayed at were in Sri Lanka where, at the time, they weren't much more than a night at a Howard Johnson's.  

When you make your way to Sri Lanka, PortMoresby, check out some that island has to offer.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  Sri Lankan people I interacted with actually were quite grateful overall for the contributions the British made to their island -- tea plantations, roads, railroads, and government.  And, of course, the English language which helps them be a popular tourist destination with Europeans.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

22 April 2014.

A British woman has been arrested and is facing deportation in Sri Lanka over a Buddha tattoo on her arm.

Naomi Michelle Coleman, 37, was taken into custody at the airport in Colombo, after she arrived from India.

Ms Coleman, who has a tattoo of a Buddha seated on a lotus flower on her right arm, was arrested for ‘hurting others' religious feelings,’ a police spokesman said.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

That's an interesting link, GarryRF, because Sri Lankans tend to be pretty mellow about most things.  Still, being disrespectful (or perceived as disrespectful) to Buddha is frowned on and not tolerated by the Sinhalese majority.


As many know, it is considered very disrespectful to show too much skin in a Buddhist temple or shrine (no bare shoulders or legs).  You won't be allowed admittance to the shrine unless you cover yourself.  I believe this woman offended these customs.


But this POD is from Hanoi.   I believe that Vietnam is now officially a communist atheist state, so she would likely have been welcomed here.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

My daughter was in Vietnam a year ago on her honeymoon DrF.

She would visit the local Churches - as these were often pieces of exquisite architecture.

On occasions outside Christian Churches she would recognise the tune of a Hymn - and while staying outside - she would sing along !

Yes - I know - a little crazy and religious too !

Communist countries don't outlaw religion, its just tolerated.




The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo by my daughter)

She has a list of good and not so good Hotels around Vietnam if anyone's going !

She toured the country for a month.


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