We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. Click here to find out more. Allow cookies

arrow Register here

Forgotten password?

Full Circle

Day 77: Hanoi

Michael Palin - Full CircleIt is the infrastructure and the bureaucracy which everyone complains about. The local head of the BBC, who is having a frustrating time trying to learn Vietnamese - 'There are five different ways of saying each word' - notices that, despite doi-moi, very little dissent is permitted. The Vietnamese government, like the Chinese, believes it can expand economically while keeping the lid on politically.

As if on cue, a military observer appears, eyeing us suspiciously. He has a broad peasant face and his uniform hangs loosely from him. The Indian team, in matching caps and full whites, take to the pitch to be followed by the two English openers, one in shorts, the other in navy tracksuit bottoms.

After the first over the observer insists that we stop filming the game immediately as this is a sensitive military area. The players wax indignant and mobile phones are produced as they try to contact anyone with influence who might be able to help us. At one point the phone rings on the pitch. The fielder at short square leg fishes it out of his pocket, listens, then tosses it to our director. 'It's for you.'

The game is still going on when a military detachment appears on the track beside the pitch. Half of them are women with black pigtails trailing from beneath peaked hats. In the back row two soldiers march by holding hands.

None of this, or any of the surprise British victory over the Indian sub-continent, are we allowed to record.
Choose another day from Full Circle


  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 77
  • Country/sea: Vietnam
  • Place: Hanoi
  • Book page no: 113

Bookmarks will keep your place in one or more series. But you'll need to register and/or log in.