The Coming Baby Boom
As I mentioned earlier, 70% of Vietnam's population was born after 1975. For demographers, this creates a real worry as the agricultural society is experiencing a huge bubble of people moving through their child-bearing years, presaging a baby boom. During my stay there, it became clear that the government was worried about this, as there was an article in the state-run newspaper about the cultural reluctance of Vietnamese men to wear condoms, and how that needs to change. Birth control seems to be on the mind of many state planners, as well as AIDs control (though that was never stated). The sign in this photo is part of that public relations campaign.
Indira Gandhi Park
Indra Gandhi Park is a small park located across Dinh Tien Hoang Road on the eastern bank of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi's city centre. This park was popular with the French for its outdoor concerns, and was renamed as Indira Gandhi Park in 1984 following the assassination of this India's Prime Minister because she was a huge supporter of Vietnam. A massive bronze statue of Ly Thai To (founder and first king of the Ly Dynasty) dominates this park.
High Quality Lacquer Ware
This is the best quality of lacquerware I've seen in Hanoi, Saigon, Bangkok and northern Thailand. The prices are high compared to other shops, but the difference in quality is remarkable. Dishes, bowls, coasters, boxes, lamps and similar Don't expect much more than 10-15% discount from list prices - it took us half an hour to get something like 13% when buing for 200+ USD
A special taxi motorbike classification.
Traffic jams are a plague in every big city, and Hanoi is no exception! Motorbikes are the most common vehicles on the streets here, and their number increased drastically in the last 10-15 years, taking over the bicycles; as wealth is growing, cars are beginning to replace the motorbikes; traffic congestion threatens to develop more and more.
Anyway! Riding as passenger on a bike is quite fun and interesting here (and if you like the smell of exhaust gases, it is the place to be! Haha); it is a bit faster than the cars, your driver sidles acrobatically in the traffic, you have a close view on the fellow commuters, hear really the traffic, and even are able to make some pictures.
There are 4 categories of taxi motorbikers in my classification:
--1 Men waiting for the tourists nearby tourists spots, and proposing their services; be prepared to demonstrate excellent bargaining skills (they propose fares higher than cabs! Example: ethnological museum to Old Quarter: 100.000 Dongs; end of bargaining: 60.000, still expensive).
--2 Women (quite few) waiting for the tourists nearby tourists spots, and proposing their services; be prepared to demonstrate excellent bargaining skills again.
--3 Men and women (very few), about everywhere, parked, or driving, waiting the customers call them; I do not know about prices.
--4 The fourth category is represented by quite nice looking young ladies who hook foreigners for a ride on their bike, and then to seventh heaven, probably; they operate in the area between the Opera and the southern side of Hoan Kiem Lake. I did not try to know how much the fare for that special destination was! They are quite few in Hanoi, compared to what I have seen in Ho Chi Min City 3 years ago.
Eat like a local!
this is my favourite restaurant so far in Hanoi. Being a local, I have tried quite a lot of food stall and restaurants, through the time hanging out with foreign travellers. It is not false to say Sen can satisfy all the need!
The restaurant is located next to West Lake, with lots of Lotus in summer (Sen means Lotus). dont forget to try Lotus Spring Rolls (Nem sen) and any thing that catches your eyes. High quality authentic food (even for a local like me) at average price (last time I went, it was 8$ per person). My family went to this place once in a while. even now i have become a vegetarian, it is still my favourite place as it has everything from all regions of Vietnam. If you dont have time to go from places to places to try food, go to Sen! (sounds like an ad but it's real!) My favourite dish would be "banh cuon'', "xoi xeo'', ''nem sen'', ''banh xeo'', ''banh bot loc'', ''bun mam tom''... ah.. so many!