Our Vietnam Experience, Entry #4

 

Director of Orchestras Wes Kenney and Violin Professor Leslie Stewart are spending ten days over break in Vietnam with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra and at the National Music Academy. These entries document their unique and exciting experience!

December 30, 2017

Catching any kind of a bug on an international trip is not fun, but compound that with two days of double rehearsals in humidity, and a day off was needed to get back on the mend. Thus most of Saturday was spent inside the hotel.

The Hanoi Sheraton seems like a grande old dame with rather square architecture augmented with asian touches, but in fact built in 2003. The marble shines and the staff is extremely friendly and attentive. There is an elegance, though it does show some wear and tear from over the years. The fixtures in the room appear to be original and show a bit of their age. Still our room is lovely, comfortable, and generally quiet.

Most important is that the hotel supports the Vietnamese National Symphony Orchestra in trade. The lobby is decked out at this time of year for the holidays and they are interesting and sometime downright elaborate (see the full sized saxophone-playing Santa Claus and the cookie-made Christmas tree).

There are a few interesting quirks. A sign on the second floor main lobby tells you that to get to the pool, spa, and tennis court, go up to the fourth floor (the floor our room is on). The signs take you down the fourth floor corridor to another door that leads outside to a roof-top tennis court and a view of the hotel courtyard. You then walk down that patio to a side building (no sign now) that you have to walk into, then take another elevator down to the first floor where the pool and spa await…or you can walk outside from the lobby all the way around towards the lake and access the pool and spa that way. Hmmm…

Even though we are quite a ways from home, work there does not cease. So score preparation for upcoming concerts, administrative work, and other business is always beckoning. Some of our day is spent concentrating on that part of our lives.

A meeting with Nhi, my soloist, is cancelled because she is now running fever, so Thang comes over and takes us to dinner at an Italian restaurant on the opposite lake shore from our hotel. It is clear that many families enjoy going out to eat as no matter where we go, children with young parents are present. We take a corner table with a view (thanks to some wheeling and dealing by Thang) and then enjoy and excellent meal of salad, pizza, and pasta.

Afterwards, Thang drives us over to the area where the presidential palace is, a large conference center, and Ho Chi Minh’s tomb. The story is that Ho Chi Minh did not want a large tomb as an edifice, but the government felt otherwise. They are all magnificent.

That seemed to be enough for the day, so back to the hotel for more rest before a big sight-seeing day!

~ Submitted by Wes Kenney, Director of Orchestras


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