Hà Nội – how come many people fall in love with?

According to wikipedia, “Invading forces from every direction agree: Hanoi makes a fine capital. It has held that title for more than a thousand years, through several invasions, occupations, restorations, and name changes. The Chinese conquered the imperial city of of Đại La in 1408 and renamed it Tống Bình. Le Loi repelled the invaders in 1428 and applied the name of XXX; for his efforts, he received the crown and a slew of legends about his heroic exploits, many centered around the Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter. The Nguyen Dynasty gave the city its modern name of Ha Noi in 1831, but they had transferred power to Hue by then; it remained there until 1887, when the French made Hanoi the capital of all Indochina. It changed hands again in 1954, when it was ceded to Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh after almost a decade of fighting, and it became the capital of North Vietnam; upon reunification in 1975, it assumed that title for the entire country.The first Western-style universities in Vietnam were founded in Hanoi, and today, it is the leading center of scientific study and research in the country. Hanoi retains much of its older colonial charm, despite the battles that have raged over it; conflict had the side effect of making it largely oblivious to modern architecture, and as a result, few buildings in the city center area are higher than five stories. The Old Quarter is second only to Hoi An for uninterrupted stretches of colonial and pre-colonial architecture, well-preserved on dense warrens of narrow, wonderfully atmospheric streets. It trades the commercial boom and sprawl of Ho Chi Minh City in the South for a more understated charm, worth enjoying for an extra day or two, and with countless transport options and travel agents, it makes a perfect base for exploration of the North.”

Well, really impressive general information about Viet Nam’s capital. To a Southerner girl like me, Hanoi seemed to be very far to travel to. Yep, I am living at the end of S shape while Hanoi is on the top. I never thought once I could travel there. I heard many people talking about that place. Some extremely love it. The others said it is ok; just a big city as the others in my country. The rest said they dislike that city and its people. Yay, what should I think about Hanoi? I have known many stereotypes and biases about that place and people there. Frankly, I do believe some stereotypes.

I went to Hanoi in the hottest time, I guess. Everything at that time was my first time. First time of taking a plane alone. First time of traveling to a furthest destination. First time of everything. One of my friend picked me up at the airport. Thanked to him, I felt a bit calm down. Sitting on the shuffle bus, we headed to the central Hanoi. My first impression was “Gee, so many buildings – constructions – cars – motorbikes and people”. I thought “OK, Angela, here you are – on the way to the capital – you make it!”.

scary traffic

On the first day in Hanoi, I did not go anywhere, but staying at my friend’s house – probably I was too tired after a long trip (hehe, even I took a plane)

Next days, my friend rode me around Hanoi on his rental motorbike. I, of course, let myself stuck on the scary streets – slowly got out of the heavy traffic jam in the morning. Then, Hanoi was not really “slow” as I thought.

I visited was Hanoi Tower – the same as the other high office buildings in Saigon. While my friend was busy with his stuffs, I wandered around that building, got to the roof (well, I love to get to the top of any high building to see the whole place which seems very small below me 😉 ). Kinda cool inside – I did not feel good though. Well, maybe I am so emotional. I was inside – seeing office people on beautiful clothes (kinda rich people) – feeling the way they were reacting. I was outside – labor people on ugly clothes (kinda poor people). The gap is too far; that’s it

Hanoi Tower

Next place where my friend took me to was Ho Guom – the symbol of the city. God, I was there in the summer and I supposed that there were breezes around the lake (that was my biggest mistake – mistake of the girl coming from the place full of rivers). Extremely HOT! I visited many places in HN and I divided them into blocks/complex. Quite easy to get to those blocks by motorbikes, taxi or walk.

Block 1: Hoan Kiem Lake

After all, I saw the statue “Die for the country” – that’s what I translated. I saw it many times just on TV and Vietnamese movies. My dad talked about it and feels proud of it. I do not know if I feel the same.

Yeap, this place is also the city’s symbol. It was not close as I thought. So far to put it on my camera’s zoom. Luckily, on that day, no rain – no frog. It was so clear to see the temple in the center of the lake. One of my two surprises in Hanoi is that temple. I thought it was big, but it was not. Moreover, I did not see any real turtles, but a dead one in Ngoc Son Temple.

Ngoc Son Temple

(there are 3 letters on that temple “Ta thien thanh” – write on the blue sky)

The Huc bridge

I love that red color – spot on the green lake next to the ancient gray temple. So perfect!

Block 2: The Old Quarter

Another place where I love to wandered is Phố Cổ – the Old Quarter

O Quan Chuong – one of 5 main gates of Thang Long

(I have not been there to take photo, but just passed by)

North Gate

Hanoi Flag Tower – the image is attached with a big red flag and yellow star in the middle and the national anthem every early morning on TV

Block 3: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

I did not go inside that mausoleum to see Uncle Ho’s body – next time! I was impressed by seeing the shift change time – just like royal British soldiers – respectfully and pro. The Ba Dinh square is so larger. I kinda had the feeling of standing in that square and listened to Uncle Ho reading the Independent Speech. Hardly to say in words though.

Ba Dinh square

“The city down south may have his name, but only Hanoi has the man himself, entombed in distinctly Lenin-esque fashion – against his wishes, but that’s how it goes. No talking, short pants, or other signs of disrespect allowed while viewing; photos are allowed only from outside, in the grand Ba Dinh Square. Purses are allowed into the tomb, but expect them to be searched by several bored soldiers along the way. Left luggage is handled in a complicated scheme: there is an office near the street for large bags, with separate windows for Vietnamese and foreigners, and a further office for cameras, which will be transported to a third office right outside the exit of the mausoleum. Items checked in at the first office, however, will stay there. Note that the mausoleum is closed for a couple months around the end of the year, when the body is taken abroad for maintenance.”

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

One pillar pagoda

Uncle Ho’s silt house

Block 4: Literature Temple – Van Mieu

This is my favorite place during the time I was in Hanoi. Full of trees – the most quiet place ever

One gate in Van Mieu

Wide view

Block 5: Bat Trang Village

This village is famous for its ceramic and pottery products. Bat Trang is 13 km south-east of Hanoi. Bat Trang belongs to Bat Trang Village, Gia Lam District. Look at these things below. I wish I could bring them all back home (in case I pay extra money for ship them 😉 )

My friend rode me on his rental motorbike and we started around 2 pm – it was sooo hot. We rode along the dike which is so big and long. It was my first time to see a real dike. I got sunburn along my leg because of my wearing short. Gee!

Dishes, bowls, cups, … I love them all

Block 5: Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

My friend and I spent the most wonderful time in Hanoi together – my last time there. We went to watch a water puppet show. That show was so GOOD. Even though the ticket is pretty expensive, it is worthy. The artists work so hard to have an amazing show. Music, puppet, backgrounds, ect. all made the best.

On my last night, my friend took me to a French style restaurant – gee I forgot its name. We just ate crepes; kinda good and a bit different from crepes made on Bassac Cruise. I love that night so bad.

Block 6: Van Phuc village, Ha Dong silk

Oh, I love the silk here. I bought some for my mom and grandmom. Shopping is not my strong point so that I spent much more time than the others to find the stuffs I really need.

I think I went to popular places in Hanoi where many tourists do. Besides, I had many memorable moments there wandering around Hanoi, eating special foods, getting lost in books at Dinh Le street, drinking coffee on the high building next to Ho Guom and gee… how much I miss that time!

I know I am going back there this summer. Mixed feeling! I will go to the old place but the same person will not wait for me at the airport and take me around. Time flies – People change!

(All photos used in this post are not my own photos – I got it from google. So what happened to mine? I just do not have time to upload them which have big size, simply!)


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