Usually it’s a polite little scooter ‘beep-beep’ to say “I’m right beside you in a lane I created”, but sometimes an aggressive ‘honk’ that will never get the traffic to move faster. Whatever the type, it’s constant. And it’s probably saved my life a few times.
The Old Quarter of Hanoi is unbelievably busy. The sidewalks are used for everything except walking – scooter parking, cooking, eating, shopping – so the only choice is to walk on the street.
On the streets there is a weaving mix of scooters, bicycles, cyclos, cars, buses, and people that seem destined for disaster every moment.
‘Cyclo’ screams ‘tourist’ but it was a great way to get to my hotel from the airport bus stop.
Outside of the Old Quarter there is more room for the food and coffee stands that are everywhere with their little chairs that look they have been raided from a kindergarten!
Crossing the street took some steady nerve! Traffic doesn’t fully stop even at a red light. At other intersections the best technique was to walk slowly and steadily across the street while traffic flowed around you. I would guess their brakes never need replacing because they don’t use them!
The Women’s Museum was excellent. It covered everything from marriage and childbirth customs to their involvement as soldiers during the two resistance wars (French, American)
Children’s caps with amulets to protect them
Traditional wedding outfits from one region
Love the women’s traditional tunic worn over pants. Elegant and practical!
Beautiful mobiles made from the traditional conical hat
My knowledge of their history started to come together. I knew France had been there because of the bread. Food always tells a story. Vietnamese ‘subs’ with baguette and pate are classic street food and I’ve had them in Canada.
France colonized Vietnam from 1887 until they were defeated by the Vietnamese in 1954.
France built Hoa Lo Prison for political prisoners, and it was pretty grim. They kept part of it as a memorial and museum.
Later the Vietnamese used it for American prisoners, during what they call the ‘American’ War. John McCain was kept there after his plane went down. The Americans nicknamed it the ‘Hanoi Hilton’, and their stay seemed to be more humane.
This is the Pagoda on the Truc Bach lake.
After Vietnam pushed France out of the country, Vietnam attempted to form a government. When Vietnam was supported by China and Soviet Union, the US feared that Vietnam would become a communist state. In their mission to prevent the spread of communism, the US and NATO supported the democratic side in South Vietnam. After twenty years of having troops in Vietnam, they finally left. Eventually communist North Vietnam took over Saigon in South Vietnam, and the country was reunited in 1975.
Today they are still under communist rule but have adopted free markets and you don’t get any feel of restrictions. People are so friendly and welcoming!
The Temple of Literature was lovely and the largest Temple I saw. There was some type of graduation service going on.
Bach Ma White Horse Temple was the oldest and smallest. Loved the offering of 333 beer!
I did a day cruise in HaLong Bay. It was peaceful and great fun with the Tiger Gang – Vinnie, Matt and Terry.
As you can see, the weather has been grey and 20-23 oC. That is seasonal for the north. A good day is without rain!
It’s frustrating when ATMs only let you have 2,000,000 dong at one time!
Fortunately that CA$115 goes a long way.
35,000 ($2.00) could get you this bowl of pho or rice with meat/tofu/vegetables and soup. Any place with full size tourist chairs will cost more!
Egg coffee has a delicious meringue on top of espresso
There is lovely peaceful lake right by the madness of the Old Quarter.