A few weeks ago my friend, Katharina and I traveled to Hanoi for part of our Fall Break. She was an excellent travel partner!
Hanoi is a bustling city in the north of Vietnam. It serves as the nation's capital and has strong Chinese and French influences. Hanoi is significantly less modernized than most other big Asian cities. The denizens still live an older way of life - a nice change from the hyper-modern cities that all tend to look the same after a while. Here Katharina and I are at the Chua Tran Quoc Pagoda which was not the pagoda we had intended to visit, but was beautiful none the less.
A few signs of the slower, less modern way of life in Hanoi. Barber shops set up outside in the plazas around the city and chickens roaming freely amongst the main roads.
An iconic image of Vietnam - we have all seen this image of women in Vietnam carrying food and other goods with carrying poles or milkmaid yokes with a traditional Vietnamese non la hat to match. I thought this would be a tourist gimmick but actually many people working to sell goods on the streets use these yokes to carry goods that they are selling. These hats are also very much commonplace and are also available for tourists to buy.
The flag above is displayed outside temples and other important government buildings. The red in the flag represents fire, the yellow is earth, the green is water and the blue is space. It is said that balancing these elements brings harmony to society and balancing these elements within oneself brings health to body and mind.
This is Ho Chi Minh's ("Uncle Ho") house. Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese Communist Revolutionary Leader who eventually became prime minister and president of North Vietnam. He led the Viet Minh independence movement which led to Vietnam's independence from the French. He is widely respected throughout Vietnam - his pictures are everywhere even to this day, though he died in 1969.
In the French Quarter eating some traditional Vietnamese food.
Popular dishes in Vietnam typically include this white rice vermicelli pictured above and below.
Hoan Kiem Lake and Temple
Driving in Hanoi is truly an art. To cross the street successfully is a big feat and was something we had to work up to the first day we were in the city. Watch the video below and you will see what I mean and will understand why tourists are afraid to cross.
Scooters are the main form of transport in Hanoi.
The city has many open/free traditional performances on the street. We also saw a water puppet show.
We stayed in the main quarter of the city, amongst many bars and restaurants frequented by locals. Many restaurants have outdoor space in the front - a great place to people watch!
Rickshaws were also a popular form of transport in the city, though mostly for tourists. Taking a rickshaw is the perfect way to see the city and experience the busy streets of Hanoi without having to fear for your safety.
Though not common, roasted dog is a kind of "specialty" in Hanoi. We were told that roasted dog is enjoyed mostly by men and is accompanied by beer - it's eaten on the streets while "hanging out with the guys."
"Yokes" or carrying poles are used to haul all sorts of things in the city and are used mostly by women.
The Temple of Literature (a temple of Confucius) was built in 1070 and was the nation's first National University. It was dedicated to Confucius and scholars of Vietnam.
Because of the temple's meaning and history it is a popular place for soon-to-be graduates of University to take graduation pictures. These girls were doing just that. Their clothing shows traditional Vietnamese attire worn for special occasions.