Arround the City, Hanoi
Favorite thing: Ok in the US if you are driving and someone honks their horn at you, sometimes it can cause a driver to go into road rage. However in Hanoi everyone beeps their horn. Seriously it got to the point that I thought the people beeped their horn just to say hi. You will learn soon to tune it out.
Favorite thing: You will find that it is very easy to get about in Vietnam. One of the great things is if you are lost just look up at any of the many businesses you may be standing in front of. All of the buildings in the city have the street number and name of the street right on the front of the building in English. So when lost, just look up.
Favorite thing: Ok crossing the street in Vietnam is one scary thing whether you are in the South or North. You seriously feel like you are doing a challenge on Fear Factor. But believe me it can be done. Basically you wait until you see a small clearing in the chaos of the traffic and then you go. Once you decide to go there is no turning back. DO NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF A VIETNAMESE STREET OR INTERSECTION! The traffic will weave itself around you. The first several times are very scary, but by the middle of your trip you will find it no problem.
Despite the intrusion of tourists into their neighbourhood, life seems to go on for the people of Old Hanoi. In the narrow, busy streets, locals bustle about. It all adds to the colour and gives the place a genuine quality that many "old quarters" around the world (I'm thinking primarily of Europe here), have lost. Hanoi's Old Quarter is no gentrified upper class dormitory. This place is a pulsing, seething warren of life!
Fondest memory: Enjoy immersing yourself in other peoples' world for a while.
One of the best things that the French left behind in Vietnam is the cafe culture. On the streets, whether day or night, you will find pockets of people sitting around enjoying their cup of freshly brewed Vietnamese coffee. Even when it was way past midnight, on a deserted street within the Old Quarter, I saw young people seated on low stools sipping coffee, smoking and chatting quietly,
The one pictured is actually a shop that I didn't get to visit, but our tour bus passed by it a few times and this time, I managed to get a picture of it.
Fondest memory: How I lurve Vietnamese Coffee... the Arabica Beans which are grown in the highlands are hand - roasted with butter and afterwards a touch of vanilla is thrown in. The coffee is strong and robust with a slight bitter aftertaste that lingers on your tongue. Quite delicious when drunk with a spoonful of thick, creamy, sweet condensed milk. I miss it! ~sigh~
Before the Water Puppetry makes it to theater and made known to international market, it is just a form of entertainment for local farmer during the flooding season of the fields.
It was much later played in some ceremonies and eventually makes it to theater.
After playing Command & Conquer Game for years, this is my first time seeing propaganda tower speakers (see red circles) attached on street lamp poles.
Although the war is long ended, these speakers still there must be serving some purposes. I had never seen any of these back in my country.
The small lady in the yellow/green top in the centre of the picture obviously supplemented her income by renting out the space in front of her shop as a parking lot for mopeds.
People would bring up their bikes and she would haul them around finding space to fit them in and them get paid when they returned. In the old quarter parking space is at a premium as there are so many bikes around and the streets are so narrow.
Her shop also sold petrol, bike bits and acted as a bicycle repair shop. Pretty good for somthing only a couple of metres wide.
Sorry about my finger being across the bottom half of the picture - ooops.
Fondest memory: Throughout the streets of Hanoi's old city, poor young boys carry shoe cleaning and repair kits and look for tourists whose shoes could use some work. They are quite aggressive and can be down scrubbing your shoes with a dirty toothbrush before you even have a chance to say NO. You have to give these kids credit for working to make a living, but it's still quite sad to see because they really should be in school or playing with friends. But we happily gave them a tip for their effort.
All over the streets of Hanoi you will see locals sitting on little stools on the sidewalk drinking glasses of beer that comes from a small keg. This beer is called Bia Hoi, and while of generally poor quality, it is definitely the cheapest tipple in town at roughly US$0.25 per glass.
Just take an available stool and allow the friendly proprietor to poor you glass after glass after glass of bia hoi. Then see if you can stike up a conversation with any of the locals around you. A truly unique experience.
Favorite thing: Seeing the sights and sounds of a Vietnamese market is an experience for sure! You will recognize many items -- but not others. And the fish are incredible! Here we have some of the peppers that give Viernamese cuisine it's fire:)
Favorite thing: Densely populated, people live in ways I never imagined. On this street, near Tran Phu, families have most of their house on one side of the tracks, but kitchen and toilet facilities on the other side.
Favorite thing: As you walk down Herb Street (Lan Ong Street) in the Old Quarter, inhale deeply to appreciate the aroma of the herbs and spices on sale along the street side.
Please enter the single most important activity or site you would take someone, if they had never been to Hanoi before.
Taking that someone to have a haircut....outdoors.
Favorite thing: Everyone talks about the old quarter downtown, but this house was in "my" neighborhood behind the Sofitel Plaza:)