Hanoi Street Scenes
Vietnam’s capital is a teeming city of 6 million people, where gracefully crumbling houses from the turn of the last century are crammed, cheek by jowl, with newer apartments and shops of every color and style; where space is at a premium and much of daily life takes place on the sidewalks and in the parks; where vendors pushing bicycles or carrying baskets ply their trade in the narrow streets of the Old Quarter; and where monumental buildings hark back to the country's French colonial past.
No need to sit in a stiflingly hot barbershop to get a haircut, when a chair and a tree will do
Commuter traffic in Hanoi
The view from the balcony of our first hotel in Hanoi (the Holiday Gold Hotel in the Old Quarter)
A mansion from the turn of the last century
The old mansion has been subdivided into apartments and shops
A typical Hanoi restaurant, with the kitchen in a small storefront and the tables out on the sidewalk
A typical narrow street in the Old Quarter
Hanoi's Gothic-inspired St. Joseph cathedral, where we watched a service on the Thursday before Easter
Decorating a motorbike with spring blossoms
Buildings in the Old Quarter are very narrow, a relic of a time when property taxes where based on a building's frontage to the street. If you want to expand, you build up.
A yummy sidewalk lunch with AJ and Francesca
Bun cha (grilled pork and seasoned pork patties in a savory broth, served with rice noodles, fresh greens, bamboo shoots, and fried spring rolls)
Hanoi's Parisian-style opera house, with slate roof tiles from France, was built by the French in 1911
The opera house reflected in a shop window across the street
The streets are wider and the buildings are fancier in Hanoi's French Quarter, but eating on little plastic stools is still popular
Motorbikes make a good place to hang out with friends or coworkers . . .
. . . or to take an afternoon nap (if your balance is good)
If our mothers lived in a Hanoi apartment, it would probably look like this
Images of national resistance leader Ho Chi Minh, who died in 1969, can still be seen in Hanoi
A typical residential scene in Hanoi
Much of Hanoi's life occurs outdoors: from getting a bicycle tire repaired . . .
. . . to getting a haircut . . .
. . . to practicing dance moves . . .
. . .to playing cards with friends
The oldest player was raking in the cash (all small bills)
Exercisers in a Hanoi park
Playing badminton in the park
Green space is a precious thing in the city
Constant traffic makes Hanoi's streets tough to cross
In a pinch, sidewalks can also be streets
A typical shop selling a little bit of everything, from SIM cards to baby formula, and from noodles and drinks to moped helmets
Bicycle vendors are alive and well in Hanoi; many sell produce or flowers
Street vendors who carry baskets on poles (like this pineapple seller) are also common
Motorbikes are the main way to carry loads around the city