|Traditional Vietnamese long house|
I have literally fallen in love with two cities on my world tour (Part 1) – Chiang Mai, Thailand and now Hanoi, Vietnam. Several fellow travelers had predicted that I wouldn’t like Hanoi, and I can’t figure that one out. Granted, I’m quite a bit older than those folks, so that may be part of it, but I find myself invigorated by its vibe.
|Trees are everywhere in Hanoi|
The city is stuck in the past in many ways, and I think that’s what appeals to me. The mixture of old buildings, quirky little shops and some newer, updated businesses kept my interest from flagging. Every turn seemed to bring surprise.
Perhaps the oddest experience for me was visiting Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, where his body is on display. He’s been dead and housed in the austere but large building for 40 plus years now and frankly looked more like a marble statute than a formerly living human being. However, he’s still very much revered by the Vietnamese of Hanoi and northern Vietnam. There is a definite difference between the north and south on many things, this monument being one of them, as a by-product of their civil war.
|Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum|
The loveliest experience was the area surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake and its park. For me, it was much like New York City’s Central Park, but far smaller. Still, beautiful and a great place to sit on a bench and unwind.
The temple of Confucianism and the Museum of Ethnology were both worth spending time on, but perhaps the very best is just walking the streets of the Old Quarter.
There are lots of great places to eat around town and I’ve found a
couple of favorites. One is actually a
Vietnamese chain called Gecko and the food is excellent (the spring rolls are
the best I’ve ever had) but the best part is that they play American music. The
first time I went in they were playing Johnny Cash and last night it was Marvin
|The Balcony, coffee bar by the lake|
A week in Hanoi is just about right for seeing the city but I could easily hang out another few days.
Goodbye Hanoi. It was nice getting to know you.
|By Hoan Kiem Lake|