Thursday, October 6, 2016

Vietnam: Hanoi Hoy!

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and the second largest city in the country is known for its centuries-old architecture and rich culture with fusion of Southeast Asia, Chinese and French influences. We visited during the month of March which is cool and mostly dry winter season. The chilling temperature between 15 to 22 degree Celcius on an average, was perfect for a leisure walk around Old Quarter area either for food expedition, cultural journey or shopping spree. The narrow streets of Old Quarter are roughly arranged by commercial products, which makes it fascinating to explore. It is like a whole city of marketplace with diverse line of merchandise. 

Along Ma May Street where Hanoi Guest House is also located(85 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem Hanoi), we found a traditional Vietnamese house(87 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem Hanoi)

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Ma May Street once located on the bank of the Red river was a very lively commercial harbor. It is consisted of two small streets: Hang May and Hang Ma. Hang May, located near the pier, specialized in the selling of rattan and bamboo products, Hang Ma, close to Hang Bac Street, sold votive papers. At the beginning of the 19th century, the two streets were combined into Ma May Street.

This traditional house was built at the end of the 19th century. Shopkeepers' families lived there successively until 1945, when a family bought it to sell herbal medicine. In 1945, the government requisition the house and five families settled down there until 1999. This house has been restored within the cooperation agreement between Hanoi and Toulouse(France) cities and was inaugurated on the 27th October 1999. Since then, the house helps to promote at local and international levels the cooperation projects, and more specifically to present the Vietnamese architecture and building techniques. It was recognized as Vietnamese National Heritage in 2004.

(Excerpts from Hanoi Old Quarter Heritage Information Center voucher)
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Few minutes walk away from Old Quarter is Hoan Kiem Lake("Hồ Hoàn Kiếm" in Vietnam which means "Lake of the Returned/Restored Sword") and Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda sitting in the centre of the small island. Hoan Kiem Lake is a scenic spot where it is interesting to observe mixture of locals and tourists. 

Just be very careful while crossing the high way towards the lake as a force of motorbike riders who are dashing through the streets have invaded the roads. Definitely not a walk in the park experience. One word you have to keep in mind as you cross the streets - FEARLESS. Just keep going, cut across as if there is no motorcycles on your way. I know this is not the most practical and safest advice you're heard, but believe me. One Vietnamese friend of mine says, just cut through the street without hesitations, the motorbike riders will be the one to adjust for you. Well thank goodness, we went home in one piece.  

Local artists offering on the spot painting service

As night unfolds, Hanoi area transforms itself into multitude of bar, music joints, food quest, cultural shows and night market. 

3D hand-made colorful cards for all occassions
Glaiza sneeking in the the kitchen
Artist Thahn Nguyen Duc
Sidewalks turned into food hubs
Street lights
Colorful lantern Vietnamese Restaurant
Street foods
Vietnam cultural street shows
Streets of Old Quarter at night
Local Vietnamese singer
Finding Glaiza

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