Arround the City, Hanoi
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.
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.
Not surprisingly, Hanoi, like the rest of Vietnam, is full of young people. About 70% of the population was born after the end of all the wars in 1975. With peace came a baby boom. Youth and energy are the sign of the new Vietnam, and this is on display in Hanoi. This may also explain what still seems like a small number of upscale restaurants, shops and bars -- people under 33 generally haven't earned lots of money yet. But they will!!
The good news is that, for most Americans, the war is part of history and most of the people seem anxious to get to their future prosperity rather than worry about holding grudges from the past (though frankly, it's easier for the Vietnamese not to hold a grudge because they won after all!)
Favorite thing: Nothing reveals the rapid transformation of Hanoi like all wires attached to the city telephone poles. Wow! It looks like the poles are going to keel over there is so much cable hanging from them. It's as if they can't string it up fast enough and as soon as one cable is strung another is needed.
Favorite thing: The Revolution Lives! Or so it seems to on the billboards and light standards of Hanoi. Though not ubiquitous, these exhortations can be seen almost everywhere, alongside red flags with yellow stars or yelloe hammers-and-sickles. These are reminders that no matter what economic activity you see going on around you, Vietnam is still a communist state.
Peach (Hoa Ðào) in Tet Holiday
Tet is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam. It is the Vietnamese New Year based on Lunar calendar (in the end of January or in February). At Tet every house is usually decorated by hoa ðào – peach flower (Prunus persica) in Hanoi. U also can see these trees in many streets or in peach flower villages e.g Nhat Tan, Quang Ba, Phu Thuong only 2 - 3 kilometers from Old Quarters
Bauhinia (Hoa Ban)
The bauhinia flowers are symbolized for the Northwest region of Vietnam, the faithful in love. They bloom in the spring (usually in February) along Bac Son street (near Bac Son monument), Hoan Kiem lake (Hang Khay - Dinh Tien Hoang corner), Grand Theatre,...
Dalbergia tonkinensis (Hoa Sưa)
In Hanoi, no young people don't know/love Dalbergia tonkinensis. This kind of tree only bloom in few weeks in the spring when the weather is still cold and foggy (in the end of February and the beginning of March). These trees are in Botanic Garden, DongDa hillock, Lenin Park (in front of Military Museum), Tran Hung Dao street, Phan Chu Trinh street, Phan Chu Trinh street, Phan Dinh Phung street,...
Bombax ceiba (Hoa Gạo - Rice Flower)
Bombax ceiba is commonly known as cotton tree or tree cotton. Red flowers with 5 petals appear in the spring before the new foliage. There is only 1 or 2 bombax trees beside Hoan Kiem. The most known is bambax trees along Yen Spring on the way to Huong Pagoda (Perfume Pagoda) or near Thay Pagoda (Master Pagoda), Tram Pagoda,... In metropolitan, only 1 or 2 trees besides Hoan Kiem lake.
Currency fluctuates all the time, so what you see today may not be what is the going rate tomorrow.
I know that in HCMC at the airport there are about six currency exchanges at the exit of the airport. Of the six, there were four different rates of exchange.
I am pretty sure Hanoi has the same.
It used to be that Jewlery stores gave a better exchange rate, but we discovered this year that the government had stopped this for the most part.
I found that the airport exchange was no better or worse than most of the banks exchange rate.
As for debit cards, they are accepted at ATM's at most banks. In the U.S. we must notify the bank that we are going to be in a certain country so the bank will not prevent the cards use. There are charges and they do add up so use them sparingly.
I think the other posters were saying that it is not safe to carry large sums of money on your person.and that using a debit card helps avoid that.
This is especially true with women and elderly people that "appear" to be better "marks", than say a 6foot plus 200 pound man that looks like a former police officer...namely myself...LOL.
Thieves would rather make it easy, not hard.
Also remember many hotels have in room safes to hold your money and jewels.
In other words, be careful....do not carry your purse with a shoulder strap, do not leave your camera just hanging on your neck and be watchful of those around you, or those trying to get close including motor scooters and unfortunately the children who might flock around in an attempt to pick you clean.
Not all of them are that way, but it pays to be cautious.
This is true in most tourist areas of the world so do not think Vietnam is unique.
So relax, think about what you plan to spend each day and then work out how much money you want to carry.
Vietnam National Museum of History
Address: No 1 Pham Ngu Lao Street, Hanoi, Vietnam
8.00 to 16.30 everyday (Monday to Sunday)
The Vietnamese national museum of history formerly the Louis Finot Museum, occupies the old archaeological and history research institution of the Ecole Française d’Extreme-Orient in a magnificent example of Indochinese architecture, . The museum opened in 1910, was rebuilt in 1926 and reopened in 1932. Exhibits displayed here cover every era of Vietnam’s fascinating and complex history. It houses an excellent archaeological collection dating from the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras including relics from the era of the Hung kings, Neolithic graves, bronze age implements, the beautiful bronze drums of Ngoc Lu and Mieu Mon, Cham relics, stelae, statues, ceramics and an eerie sculpture of the goddess Quan Am with her one thousand eyes. One room features an ornate throne, clothes and artifacts’ belonging to the thirteen kings of the Nguyen dynasty.
The Museum’s major exhibition system
The Museum’s major exhibition system is now arranged chronologically from the primitive life in Vietnam to the August 1945 Revolution and the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. This historical process is displayed through more than 7,000 artifacts in a two-floor big building covering over 2,200 square meters, divided into four sections:
Section 1: Vietnam in the prehistory
Focusing on the formation and development of the primitive society in Vietnam during the Stone Age (30,000-40,000 years to 4,000-5,000 years ago).
Section 2: The early national construction to the Tran Dynasty
- Early national construction
- Ten-century struggle against the Chinese domination
- Ngo-Dinh-Anterior Le Dynasties
- Ly Dynasty
- Tran Dynasty
Section 3: Vietnam from the Ho Dynasty to the August 1945 Revolution
- Ho Dynasty
- Early Le-Mac-Restored Le Dynasties
- Tay Son Dynasty
- Nguyen Dynasty
- Anti-French movements and the August 1945 Revolution
Section 4: Collection of the Champa stone sculptures
How to get there by bus:
There are 3 bus ways to get to the museum, they are buses number 2, 3 and 4 with bus-stops close to the museum.
- Buses number 2: Bac Co – Ba La: stop at bus-stops on Tran Khanh Du street or Trang Tien street. It’s about 5 minutes walk from the bus-stops to the museum.
- Buses number 3: Giap Bat – Gia Lam Bus-stops: stop at the end of Phan Chu Trinh street 500 m from the museum (with buses start at Giap Bat bus-stop) or stop at Trang Tien bus-stop near the museum’s gate (with buses start at Gia Lam bus-stop).
- Buses number 4: Long Bien – Linh Nam: stop at bus-stop inLe Thanh Tong street (with buses start at Long Bien) 100m from the museum or stop at bus-stop in Phan Chu Trinh street (with buses start at Linh Nam).
Favorite thing: A friend just recently returned from Hanoi. Couldn't get a hotel within 10 miles of Old Quarters because of the APEC convention. He said air quality and traffic were horrible. Had to start wearing one of those face mask. Once he left the city on the back of a moped, he was in Vietnam heaven.
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.
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.
Favorite thing: It takes some skill in getting in and out in order not to make life difficult for the cycler. It was a lot of fun except in the Hanoi traffic circles which were scary places !!
Favorite thing: Martyrs' Monument is dedicated to all the soldiers who gave their lives fighting for independence. It's located at the northeast corner of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Favorite thing: I read an article almost 2 years ago about cafe culture in Hanoi. It's the first time I ever thought of visiting an asian country, and now I live here.
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.