Thursday, 24 June 2021

Henley Rotary Club

A FASCINATING insight into Vietnam was the entertainment at the club&rsquos “fifth Tuesday” meeting held at

A FASCINATING insight into Vietnam was the entertainment at the club&rsquos “fifth Tuesday” meeting held at Henley Golf Club on Tuesday.

Maria Bunina, the club&rsquos vice-president, showed many excellent photographs of the country she and her partner Richard had visited on a recent holiday. She was assisted by Stephen Quant, husband of club speakers&rsquo secretary Vivienne Quant, who gave an extremely well-researched overview of the history of this part of south-east Asia.

Stephen explained that this long narrow country had always had two distinct ends, Viet in the north and Nam in the south, and how it had become part of French Indonesia.

With three distinct microclimates, it had split into North Vietnam and South Vietnam in 1954.

Maria went on to describe in graphic detail their arrival in Hanoi and how they had found the traffic “shocking”.

She said they had visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the various markets, where there were various stalls selling anoraks and trainers and, of course, silk was everywhere. She showed a menu from a restaurant selling fried dog meat and various other delicacies.

In a country in which Samsung Electronics and Canon had factories, she said that the mobile reception was “amazing, not like in Oxfordshire!”

The pair spent time in Halong Bay, with its rocky outcrops and caves, and on the way southwards came across numerous rice fields.

Maria showed many stunning photographs of buildings incongruously situated next to each other but all with an imposing door on the front.

There was a distinct French influence to the architecture, she said.

Stephen then gave a potted description of the Vietnam War, from which the Americans withdrew in 1973 due to public opinion at home.

Saigon fell in 1975 and was then re-named Ho Chi Minh City. The numerous tunnels built by the North Vietnamese were illustrated, with Maria showing photographs of both herself and Richard scrambling through them.

Maria said they reached the comparative luxury of Ho Chi Minh City before returning home.

Roger Sayer proposed the vote of thanks.

Earlier in the meeting, club president John Grout had welcomed the guests and partners of Rotarians, who included Richard Walker (a new associate member) and two previous outside speakers, Jan Mirkowski and Jim Donahue.

Members and guests had observed a moment&rsquos silence before sitting down in memory of Herman Jansen, a former president of the club who died suddenly last week.

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