A, Introduction about Hanoi
As it had under Chinese rule, Vietnamese nationalism simmered quietly throughout the country, waiting for an opportunity. Young Nguyen Tat Thanh, better known by his alias Ho Chi Minh, thought that the end of WWI was a good opening, so he tried to present a plan for an independent Vietnam to US president Woodrow Wilson at the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference. Evidently, self-determination was for Europeans alone. When France fell to Nazi Germany in 1940, the Vichy government allowed the Japanese to put troops in Vietnam. The United States knew enough not to count on any French resistance, instead opting to pump arms and funding into the communist-dominated Viet Minh forces. Our leader, Ho Chi Minh, graciously accepted and began harassing the Japanese mercilessly. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Uncle Ho called for a general uprising known as the August Revolution, and on September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh and his National Liberation Committee (with US officials at his side) declared the Democratic Republic of Vietnam independent at a rally in Ba Dinh Square. The French were not pleased, and fought the Viet Minh tooth and nail for eight years, despite a massive military aid package from the USA and formal recognition by both China and the USSR. On May 7, 1954, the French threw in the towel and surrendered North Vietnam to the Viet Minh. Fiercely anti-communist leader Ngo Dinh Diem was elected (more or less; a lot of dead people voted in that election) president of South Vietnam. Soon afterward, the USA closed its consulate in Hanoi. In 1959, Southern cadres asked that the North Vietnamese join them in ‘armed struggle’ against the Diem regime. Hanoi responded by agreeing to help the National Liberation Front (NLF), also known as the Viet Cong, who were mainly communist South Vietnamese resisters with little training. Without French troops, however, the South Vietnamese army was incredibly weak, and the Western world looked on nervously as Diem began losing control of the situation. The USA sent 2000 ‘military advisers’ to South Vietnam in 1961, the number swelling to 23,000 by 1964. By then, Hanoi was no longer helping the NLF out with guns and training; they were sending trained North Vietnamese troops across the border. Despite small victories, Hanoi’s war didn’t seem winnable until the 1968 Tet Offensive, when Hanoi gained the upper hand. The USA continued to throw warm bodies – to the tune of 3.14 million men and women – at the increasingly bloody conflict until the 1973 cease-fire. The USA evacuated almost all troops out of Vietnam in return for Hanoi’s commitment to keep communism above the 17th parallel. They also cut off most financial and other aid to South Vietnam. By 1975, the southern half of the country was running on fumes. North Vietnam launched a massive attack on the South on January 1975; Saigon surrendered in April. No one, least of all the leadership in Hanoi, was prepared for reunification. At least two million Vietnamese had died in the conflict and scars ran deep; the environment and economy were shambles. The violence wasn’t over, either: In 1979, answering for Vietnam’s 1978 invasion of Cambodia, China attacked Hanoi. The Chinese were repelled within 17 brutal days. The 1980s witnessed a devastating famine that left Hanoi with rice shortages and strict rations, a continuing guerrilla war with the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the opening of European communism. Surprisingly, Vietnam finished the decade in much better shape than it started. In February 1990, the government called for more ‘openness and criticism’, but was unprepared for the seething discontent behind the floodgates. Hanoi backtracked, but began allowing more economic openness while keeping government structure (and media access) in a lockbox. In 1992 Vietnam signed a peace treaty with Cambodia, and in 1994, the USA lifted economic sanctions on the country. The two former enemies now maintain diplomatic relations.
As the economy continues to open to foreign investment and private ownership, Hanoi’s leadership remains in the hands of hard-line communists. The economy’s command structure insulated Vietnam from the worst of the Asian economic crisis (though its currency was devalued twice); the crisis actually increased confidence in the Communist Party. The growing private business sector in the city makes it obvious; however, that capitalism is making sturdy inroads into Vietnam. While the government is eyeing Most Favored Nation status with the US and, eventually, membership of the WTO, its human rights record is bound to be a stumbling block.
Human habitation of Northern Vietnam goes back about 500,000 years according to archaeological evidence. The site of present-day Hanoi has been populated for at least 10,000 years. These first inhabitants formed a feudally organized society that first relied on hunting, fishing and gathering, later developing animal husbandry and agriculture. These tribes developed in relative isolation until about 2000 years ago. The Han Chinese set up a military garrison near present-day Hanoi in 214 BC, using it as a base of operations that would eventually control most of modern Vietnam. The next 1000 years of Chinese rule introduced important technological innovations to the Vietnamese, including ploughs and irrigation systems. But rebellion simmered in every town, and the millennium was punctuated by revolution and resistance. This tradition of rebellion shaped Vietnam’s national character. Vietnamese rebels saw their chance when China’s Tang dynasty collapsed. In 938, revolutionary leader Ngo Quyen gave the Chinese a sound whipping and established an independent Vietnamese state, but after his death the region fell into anarchy. In 980, Vietnam became a semi-independent client state of China, stabilizing the situation all for the cost of a biannual tribute. For the next 400 years, the site of present-day Hanoi served as the administrative seat for all of Vietnam. The Grand Royal enclosure, now the city’s Old Quarter, was constructed and the nation’s first university, the Temple of Literature, was founded during the first century of home rule. Attacks by the Khmers, Chinese and even Kublai Khan were repelled by national forces. All this was done with little Chinese interference. The Chinese never forgot their plum province, however, and in 1400 they captured Hanoi again. National hero Le Loi’s guerrilla tactics and peasant support eventually reclaimed Vietnamese independence. A period of nationalism and renewed interest in Confucianism followed a reaction to increased discontent with Europeans, their values and their missionaries. The missionaries didn’t take the hint, however, and in 1858 several were killed. The French had an excuse to invade, and by 1867 South Vietnam was a French colony. Hanoi was captured in 1874. The impotent imperial court was allowed to remain, indulging itself in various coups and capers, but the French controlled the nation.
Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam. It is located at 20°25′ latitude North and 105°30′ longitude East in the plains of North Vietnam. There are many rivers flowing eastwards to the sea. This is a convenient transport cluster for all the Northern provinces. The climate is tropical and affected by monsoons. There are four seasons in Hanoi, there are: Spring; it starts from February to April; average temperature is from 15° to 20°C (59° -68° F), drizzle is frequent with wet weather. This is the season of the Lunar New Year holiday and many folk festivals. Summer; it starts from May to August; average temperature is from 30° to 36° C (86° -97° F). There is much rain and sunshine. Autumn; it starts from September to November; average temperature is 25° to 36° C (75° – 97°F). It is cool, clear and dry. This is the best season in Hanoi, but it is short, lasting no more than 50-60 days. Winter; it starts from December to January; the lowest temperature is from 10° to 15°C (48° -59 °F). The weather is cloudy and wet. The monsoons cause many phases of cold. The annual average rainfall in Hanoi is 1800 mm. In the past, many rivers flowed through Hanoi, but they changed their currents from time to time, therefore the ground is mainly deposited by alluvium and there are many lakes. These rivers and lakes give Hanoi a natural beauty. In the flood season, the water level of the largest rivers flowing through Hanoi (the Red River, the Duong, Nhue, Day Rivers) rises very high. During ancient times, the Vietnamese people have built thousands of kilometers of dykes by the river banks. Nowadays, in the city, some sections of the ancient dykes have become traffic roads
At the present time, Hanoi comprises 7 inner districts and 5 suburban districts. Nevertheless, districts may be increased in number as the capital is developing fast together with the country. The 7 inner districts of Hanoi are: – Hoan Kiem district: This is a trade, cultural and administrative centre. The Municipal People’s Committee, the Central Bank and important state offices are located in this district. It also includes theatres, railway stations, markets and busy commercial streets. There are two bridges link Hoan Kiem district with the other side of the Red River. Hoan Kiem Lake in the centre of the district is considered as the heart of the capital. Its ancient streets still keep deep imprints of Hanoi’s millenary history; therefore they should be protected as historical relics. The Hoan Kiem lake description will be explain further in next chapter. – Ba Dinh district: Ba Dinh district is located at South of West Lake, a zone where many highest state bodies and diplomatic offices are located. The Mausoleum and Museum of Ho Chi Minh and the Hanoi old citadel are also located in this district. The Western part of this district is being reconstructed through large projects. – Hai Ba Trung district is situated of Hoan Kiem Lake including trade and administrative zones. It is developing southwards, covering some industrial and population localities between the National Road 1 A and the Red river. – Dong Da district. This is a Southwest expanded part of the city including many common living quarters, colleges, hospitals and factories built in the 1960s and 1970s. Large transport routes and multi-storey buildings are now under construction in this district in the Southern part of Dong Da lake. – Recently, the districts of Tay Ho, Thanh Xuan and Cau Giay have been formed on the territory of the old districts and precincts to satisfy the development demands of the city. In these new districts, the construction tempo has increased on the basis of the better planning. – The suburban districts of Tu Liem and Thanh Tri are located in the South of the city; Dong Anh and Soc Son districts are in the North; and Gia Lam districts are in the East. Formerly, these districts were agricultural areas, providing the capital with food and vegetables. At present, new factories, industrial and export processing zones are being established in this district. https://www.vietnamembassy-usa.org/learn_about_vietnam/geography/ha_noi/
There was a long period in the northern part of the country of relative isolation from the west. Thus Vietnamese in Hanoi and its surrounding areas tend to be quite curious about westerners. Travelers should expect to be watched and commented on, and to be asked questions considered somewhat intrusive by western standards (how old are you, are you married, how much money do you make, why do you have those children, etc.). None of this is meant to cause offense; it is just a simple curiosity. Vietnamese live much more “out” in their neighborhoods than do typical westerners, who live and work in closed-up buildings and travel everywhere by car, and are avid observers of (and commentators on) life around them. Hanoians are overwhelmingly honest and good-natured people. There is no animosity toward Americans left over from the war. People tend to be forward-looking and prefer not to dwell on the past; they are pragmatic, down-to-earth, and extremely hard-working, particularly women. Adults almost universally dote on children. Travelers can expect to have their babies taken away to be held, and their children of all ages entertained in shops, restaurants, and hotels. Merchants and peddlers do see western travelers as great sources of income and relatively easy marks. They bargain aggressively and overcharge without mercy (but will scrupulously count change when the bargain is struck). Small children selling postcards and shoe shining services can be quite ruthless. People asking for hand-outs are very persistent and at times unpleasant. Travelers who walk purposefully, say “no” firmly to unwanted offers, and make minimal eye contact are fare best. * * *
As the oldest continuously developed area of Vietnam, Hanoi’s Old Quarter has a history that spans 2,000 years and represents the eternal soul of the city. Located between the Lake of the Restored Sword, the Long Bien Bridge, a former city rampart, and a citadel wall, the Old Quarter started as a snake and alligator-infested swamp. It later evolved into a cluster of villages made up of houses on stilts, and was unified by Chinese administrators who built ramparts around their headquarters. The area was named “Dominated Annam” or “Protected South” by the Chinese. The Old Quarter began to acquire its reputation as a crafts area when the Vietnamese attained independence in the 11th century and King Ly Thai To built his palace there. In the early 13th century, the collection of tiny workshop villages which clustered around the palace walls evolved into craft cooperatives, or guilds. Skilled craftsmen migrated to the Quarter, and artisan guilds were formed by craftsmen originating from the same village and performing similar services. Members of the guilds worked and lived together, creating a cooperative system for transporting merchandise to the designated streets in the business quarter. Because inhabitants of each street came from the same village, streets developed a homogeneous look. Commoners’ homes evolved out of market stalls, before streets were formed. Because storekeepers were taxed according to the width of their storefront, storage and living space moved to the rear of the buildings. Consequently, the long and narrow buildings were called “tube houses.” Typical measurements for such houses are 3 meters wide by 60 meters long. The Old Quarter has a rich religious heritage. When the craftsmen moved from outlying villages into the capital, they brought with them their religious practices. They transferred their temples, pagodas and communal houses to their new location. Each guild has one or two religious structures and honors its own patron saint or founder. Therefore, on each street in the Old Quarter there is at least one temple. Now, many of the old temples in the Old Quarter have been transformed into shops and living quarters, but some of the old buildings’ religious roots can still be recognized by the architecture of their roofs. Although the old section of Hanoi is often called the “36 Old Streets,” there are more than 36 actual streets. Some researchers believe that the number 36 came from the 15th century when there might have been 36 guild locations, which were workshop areas, not streets. When streets were later developed, the guild names were applied to the streets. Others attribute the 36 to a more abstract concept. The number nine in Asia represents the concept of “plenty.” Nine times the four directions makes 36, which simply means “many.” There are now more than 70 streets in the area. Some streets have achieved fame by their inclusion in popular guidebooks. Han Gai Street offers silk clothing ready-made and tailored, embroidery, and silver products. Hang Quat, the street that formerly sold silk and feather fans, now stuns the visitor by its brilliantly colored funeral and festival flags and religious objects and clothing. To Thinh Street connects the above two and is still the wood turner’s street. Hang Ma glimmers with shiny paper products, such as gift wrappings, wedding decorations and miniature paper objects to burn for the dead. Lan Ong Street is a sensual delight of textures and smells emanating from the sacks of herbal medicinal products: leaves, roots, barks, and powders In the early 13th century, the collection of tiny workshop villages which clustered around the palace walls evolved into craft cooperatives, or guilds. The Old Quarterbegan to acquire its reputation as a crafts area when the Vietnamese attained independence in the 11th century and King Ly Thai To built his palace there. In the early 13th century, the collection of tiny workshop villages which clustered around the palace walls evolved into craft cooperatives, or guilds. Skilled craftsmen migrated to the Quarter, and artisan guilds were formed by craftsmen originating from the same village and performing similar services. Members of the guilds worked and lived together, creating a cooperative system for transporting merchandise to the designated streets in the business quarter. Because inhabitants of each street came from the same village, streets developed a homogeneous look. Commoners’ homes evolved out of market stalls, before streets were formed. Because storekeepers were taxed according to the width of their storefront, storage and living space moved to the rear of the buildings. Consequently, the long and narrow buildings were called “tube houses.” Typical measurements for such houses are 3 meters wide by 60 meters long. The Old Quarter has a rich religious heritage. When the craftsmen moved from outlying villages into the capital, they brought with them their religious practices. They transferred their temples, pagodas and communal houses to their new location. Each guild has one or two religious structures and honors its own patron saint or founder. Therefore, on each street in the Old Quarter there is at least one temple. Now, many of the old temples in the Old Quarter have been transformed into shops and living quarters, but some of the old buildings’ religious roots can still be recognized by the architecture of their roofs. Although the old section of Hanoi is often called the “36 Old Streets,” there are more than 36 actual streets. Some researchers believe that the number 36 came from the 15th century when there might have been 36 guild locations, which were workshop areas, not streets. When streets were later developed, the guild names were applied to the streets. Others attribute the 36 to a more abstract concept. The number nine in Asia represents the concept of “plenty.” Nine times the four directions makes 36, which simply means “many.” There are now more than 70 streets in the area. Some streets have achieved fame by their inclusion in popular guidebooks. Han Gai Street offers silk clothing ready-made and tailored, embroidery, and silver products. Hang Quat, the street that formerly sold silk and feather fans, now stuns the visitor by its brilliantly colored funeral and festival flags and religious objects and clothing. To Thinh Street connects the above two and is still the wood turner’s street. Hang Ma glimmers with shiny paper products, such as gift wrappings, wedding decorations and miniature paper objects to burn for the dead. Lan Ong Street is a sensual delight of textures and smells emanating from the sacks of herbal medicinal products: leaves, roots, barks, and powders.
A majority of the street names in the Old Quarter start with the word hang. Hang means merchandise or shop. The guild streets were named for their product, service or location. Hang Bac, one of the oldest streets in Vietnam, dates from at least the 13th century. Bac means silver, and appropriately, this street started as a silver ingot factory under the reign of Le Thanh Tong (1469-1497). Village people, called the “Trau Khe silver casters,” were brought into the capital to cast silver bars and coins. After a ceremony to transfer their craft from their village of Trau Khe to Hanoi, they set up two temples to honor the founders of their craft. At one communal house, the silver was molten and poured into molds. At the other communal house, the molds were further processed for delivery to the Prime Minister. The crafters went to great lengths to keep their methods secret to avoid counterfeit products. At the turn of the 18th century, the street took on more varied functions. In addition to the casting of silver ingots, the street attracted more jewelry makers and money exchangers. Money exchangers thrived, since in the old days, paper money was not used. Instead, currency consisted of bronze and zinc coins and silver ingots. When merchants needed a large amount of money for business transactions, they would exchange the heavy metal bars on Hang Bac. During the French time it was called “Exchange Street.” Although paper currency was later used, the word for it included the word bac. Hang Bac also has jewelers of different types: engravers, smelters, polishers, and gold-leaf makers. The first jewelry makers were the Dong Cac guild, which settled during the Le dynasty (1428-1788). They founded a temple dedicated to three brothers who learned their art in China in the 6th century, and who are considered the patron saints of the Vietnamese jewelry making profession. There are several famous buildings on this street. In the communal house on Hang Bac, there is a stone stele, built in 1783, telling about a Mandarin who forcibly took over the communal house. The locals took him to court and won back their building. The Dung Tho Temple is dedicated to Chu Bi, a Taoist deity. At the end of the French colonial period, this temple had been named Truong Ca, after a person who watched over the temple and served the best noodle soup. One building on this street is the pride of contemporary history-the Chuong Vang (Golden Bell) Theater, which still hosts traditional Vietnamese theater performances. The former traditional-venue theater, the To Nhu (Quang Lac) Theater built in the 1920s, also is on this street but has been transformed into apartments.
In the mid-19th century, the guild of bamboo raft makers was located on this street outside the My Loc gate, one of the many sturdy gates to the city. The cai mang raft consisted of 12 to 15 large bamboo poles lashed together by strips of green bamboo bark. Their anterior was slightly raised by heating the wood, and the aft was rigged with three quadrangular sails made of coarse linen dyed with extracts of sweet potato skins. Bamboo rafts were sensible for Hanoi’s shallow rivers, lakes and swamps, which can not provide solid anchorage or natural shelter from storms. The flat design better weathered the seasonal typhoons that lash the northern part of Vietnam, and is better adapted to coastal and river fishing. The bamboo poles from which the rafts were constructed were sold one block east on Hang Tre Street.
Meaning “Wooden Bridge,” Cau Go Street is located one block north of the Lake of the Restored Sword, and was in fact the location of a wooden bridge. About 150 years ago, the bridge crossed a thin stream of water connecting the Thai Cuc Lake with the Lake of the Restored Sword. Dyers from the neighboring Silk Street set out their silk to dry or bleached their fabric beside the bridge. Under the French occupation, the lake and stream were filled as health measures and to increase buildable land. The little wooden bridge became a regular street. On the edge of the lake, women in wide brimmed hats once sold armfuls of flowers to the French for a few coins. Today a flower market exists where the Cau Go alley intersects with the main street. Other historical sites on Cau Go are the secret headquarters and hiding place of the 1930-45 “Love the Country” resistance movement. Cau Gotoday is a commercial street specializing in women’s accessories.
This street is one of Vietnam’s oldest streets. It serves as a main axis running from north to south, cutting the Old Quarter in half. In the French Colonial time, Hang Dao Street was a center for the trading of silk products. On the first and sixth days of the lunar month, there were fairs for the sale of silk items. Shops also sold other types of fabric such as gauze, brocade, crepe, and muslin. Almost all the non-silk products were white. In the beginning of the 15th century, this street was the location of the silk dyer guild from the Hai Hung Province, which specialized in a deep pink dye. Dao, the name of the street, refers to the pink of apricot blossoms, which are symbolic of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. The demand for this special color was so high that the fabric had to be dyed at other locations as well. Hang Thiec is the street of tinsmiths. The craftsmen originally produced small tin cone-shaped tips which were used to preserve the shape of the traditional conical hats By the 18th century, the dye colors diversified. In the 18th-century work Notes About the Capital, the author wrote that “Hang Dao guild does dying work. It dyes red as the color of blood, black as Chinese ink, and other beautiful colors.” In the 19th century, Hang Dao was lined by about 100 houses, of which only 10 or so were constructed of bricks. The rest were of thatch. On the side of the street alongside the now filled-in Hang Dao Lake, the foundations of the houses have visibly sunk lower than the road. By the turn of this century, Indian textile merchants opened shops for trading silk and wool products imported from the West. This street now specializes in ready-made clothing. -Dong Xuan Street/ Market Street This street originally belonged to two villages-the even numbered houses were occupied by the Nhiem Trung village, and the odd numbered houses were occupied by the Hau Tuc village. The Dong Xuan market, Vietnam’s oldest and largest market, occupies half of the street. River networks formed the economic hub of Hanoi by providing a system of waterways which fed the city and markets. Located at the confluence of the To Lich and Red Rivers, the Dong Xuan market was once one of the busiest urban areas in Southeast Asia. The French required merchants to bring their goods inside the fenced perimeter of the market in order to facilitate tax collections. When the number of merchants swelled, the market was enlarged. In 1889, a structure was built over it, and five gates were built leading to it. Each of the five market gates was used only for specified goods. In 1992, the market was renovated and a new facade erected. -Hang Mam Street Hang Mamis the union of two old streets: an eastern offshoot called Hang Trung and the original Hang Mam. The name is derived from the various kinds of mam, or fish sauces, that are produced and sold here, as well as other sea products. The street was originally on the riverside, close to the day’s catch. Nuoc mam, or fish sauce, is made from fish that are too small to be sold individually which are placed in clay vats with water and salt. Boiled water is poured over the fish and weights are placed on top of the mixture to compress it. The concoction distills for days, and the result is a clear amber juice that is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. With aging, the fierce ammoniac odors of the fish become mellow, and like brandy, the flavor improves. The first pressing, which is the clearest and purest, is called nuoc mam nhi, or prime. The sauce was stored in barrels made on adjacent Hang Thung Street. In the 1940s, new specialties appeared on the street. A small ceramics industry appeared along with those of memorial stone etching, coffin, and tombstone manufacturers.
This street also is a union of two old streets. Hang May sold rattan products, and Hang Ma sold sacred joss (paper replicas of money, clothing, even stereo sets) to burn for the dead. Ma is burned in front of the altar of ancestors accompanied by prayers. Around the turn of the century, the streets became one: Ma May. On the edge of the lake, women in wide brimmed hats once sold armfuls of flowers to the French for a few coins. In the French time, this street was called “Black Flag Street” because the soldier Luu Vinh Phuc had his headquarters here. Luu was the leader of the Black Flags, a bandit unit operating around Hanoi in the late 19th century. They were essentially pirates who made a living robbing villagers and merchants. In the 1880s, the Black Flags cooperated with the Vietnamese Imperial Forces to resist the French who were attempting to gain military control of Hanoi. In the middle of the street is the Huong Tuong temple, established in 1450, which honors Nguyen Trung Ngan (1289-1370), a governor of Thang Long, the former name of Hanoi.
Hang Thiecis the street of tinsmiths. The craftsmen originally produced small tin cone-shaped tips which were used to preserve the shape of the traditional conical hats. A neighboring street, Hang Non, made the hats, and both streets comprised the Yen No hamlet. Hang Thiec Street also produced oil lamps, candle sticks, and opium boxes. Tin shops sold mirrors, which they still do today, along with sheet metal, zinc, and glass. The street echoes busily with the clanging of hammers against the sheet metal. Workers spread out on the sidewalk shaping metal storage boxes and other objects to custom order.
In the old days, on this block inside the Dong Yen gate, barrels were manufactured. The barrels were used for storing and carrying water and fish sauce. The communal house and the temple of the barrel makers’ guild is located at 22 Hang Thung, but is hidden behind newer buildings. The street is shaded by the leaves of the xoan tree which has a fluffy cream colored cluster flower and bright red berries. The tree has various English names: Margosa, Bead, or China Berry tree. In May, the tiny flowers fall to the ground like yellow confetti. The furrowed bark is often scraped off by local residents, who dry and boil it to make a medicinal infusion as a vermifuge.
Today, handicraft production is increasingly replaced by restaurants, repair shops, and mini hotels. Historic buildings have become mass living spaces and schools as the population increases. Craft workers now constitute nine percent of the neighborhood. Traders make up 40 percent.With the new economic policies, a dramatic building boom has begun, threatening the charm of the district. Local, national, and international agencies are now formulating plans to preserve the historic ambiance of the Old Quarter. Meaning of the 36 streets (just old name but in fact more than there)
Hoan Kiem Lake is the center of the city both literally and figuratively. The lake is the city’s most popular strolling ground and a lovers’ lane at night with couples locked in embrace on benches or parked motorbikes looking out over the placid waters, the shadows of overhanging willows cast by moonlight. In the morning the lake area is crowded with folks out for their morning exercise — running or walking in a circle around the lake or joining in with the many tai chi, martial arts, calisthenics, aerobics, and even ballroom dancing groups that meet in the open areas at water’s edge. Hoan Kiem Lake is also the city’s own creation myth: the Legend of the Lake of the Recovered Sword. In the mid-15th century the gods gave emperor Le Thai To a magical sword to defeat Chinese invaders. While the emperor was boating on the lake one day, a giant tortoise reared up and snatched the sword, returning it to its rightful owners and ushering peace into the kingdom. Stroll around the lake in the early morning or evening to savor local life among the willow trees and see elders playing chess or practicing tai chi. In the center of the lake is the Tortoise Pagoda; on the northern part is Ngoc Son pagoda, reachable only by the stunning Bridge of the Rising Sun, a long, red arch typical of Chinese temple compounds. Ngoc Son is a working temple, meaning that you might walk into a local ceremony of chanting monks and kneeling supplicants. The temple grounds offer great views of the surrounding lake, and the little lakeside park on the island is a popular place for elderly men to enjoy a game of Chinese chess. Don’t miss the friendly calligrapher just inside the temple (on the left as you enter). For a nominal fee, have your and your friends’ names done in Chinese characters, complete with the meanings of each symbol in English on the back (I’m “Wheat Love Machine”) or have a scroll done of significant Chinese characters such as “Heart,” “Love,” or “Determination” (whatever you think you might need). Hoan Kiem is a useful locator for navigating the city; for addresses downtown, people generally give directions in relation to it. It’s good to know how to get from the lake to your hotel. The lake is also the jumping-off point for exploring the Old Quarter, Hanoi’s labyrinth of traditional craft streets in a sprawling maze on the north end of the lake. Lakeside is also a good place to find a bench and rest your toes after trundling around town, and you can find some good little cafes, particularly on the north end. Grab an ice cream and take time to stroll or stop and watch the moon reflect off the surface of this magical lake. You might even spot one of the giant turtles who took back the sword of Le Thai To to herald peace in Vietnam; sightings of this rare breed of turtles are quite common. Willows hang over the lake and reflect in the rippling light of dusk. Thap Rua is the small temple that was built in 1886 by an obscure Mandarin official. The temple was at first despised and involved in a scandal in which the official tried to have his father’s bones laid to rest at the pagoda base. But over time, tiny Thap Rua, which sits on a small island at the very center of the pond, has become something of the city’s Leaning Tower of Pisa, Statue of Liberty, and Eiffel Tower all rolled into one. Just two tiers of window galleries crowned by a short tapered roof, the temple commands great respect despite its recent construction, and it’s a popular focal point for swooning lovers at lakeside in Hanoi’s “Central Park” — the lungs of the city. The turtles that can be seen basking at the temple’s base are said to be up to 500 years old and the very species that stole the sword and founded the fair city. Hanoians love their stupa of peace; in fact, recent initiatives to have the aging pagoda painted and restored — the small stupa is covered in moss and is overgrown with weeds — were met with staunch disapproval from Hanoi citizens. And so it is as it always was.
Ph? noodle soup first appeared in the 1920s, it’s less than 100 years old. However, it developed incredibly fast. First, there was only beef noodle soup and it was hawked around the streets. During the 1940s, when there was a shortage of beef, people started making Ph? with chicken as they had become addicted to it. And now Ph? is so popular that almost no street in Hanoi is without a Ph? restaurant. In some areas, there are even 3-4 restaurants, from luxurious to simple ones inside alleys. However not every restaurant can satisfy the strict requirements of Hanoian gourmets, who eat Ph? every morning or late at night during the four seasons. A good bowl of Ph? first requires the flavor of soup, which comes from cooking the ox bones, not from seasoning, along with taste of cardamom, grilled ginger and onion, all mixed together. Noodles must be soft and plastic. Next, brown beef is dipped into the hot soup, and finally spices, including onion and “th?m” vegetable. The southerners love to eat Ph? with various types of vegetables, but Hanoians do not eat it that way. Exceptional cases are Ph? bought specially for sick people without meat or for children without onion, but these are not really Ph?. To appreciate Ph? properly, it should be eaten in restaurants with the atmosphere of people going in and out, the sound of bowls, chop sticks and knives, and the passionate faces. Ph? is the delicious speciality food of Hanoi. In Vietnam, you can find Ph? everywhere. The interesting thing is even thought Pho are sold at some tens of km away from Hanoi, it is still longer so delicious. In addition Ph? made from beef and chicken, there are other types of local Ph? like Ph? th?t v?t (duck meat), Ph? th?t l?n (pork), Ph? chua, Ph? cu?n etc., but only Ph? noodle soup made in Hanoi has the special attraction that is found nowhere else in Vietnam. It is, indeed, “a feature of Hanoi”. Some types of Ph? noodle soups in Hanoi: Ph? bò tái (rare beef), Ph? bò chín (well done beef), Ph? bò n?m g?u (beef), Ph? bò s?t vang (beef and tomato), Ph? gà (chicken). One of the most famous brand in Vietnam is Pho 24, but it is the most expensive. Pho also available and sold out in: Jakarta ( Indonesia ), Manila (Philippines), Seoul (Korea ), Phnom Penh (Cambodia ), Sydney (Australia ). Moreover, Pho have a fans page in Facebook with more than 102485 fans. It proves that Pho is popular all over the world.
Instead of Pho as a feature food of Hanoi, there are many street food that also represent Hanoi’s culture and life Most people come to Hanoi are ready to eat. In Hanoi, street food is not merely a quaint or exotic culinary excursion, but is central to how people eat and helps define the culture and rhythm of the city.
-Bún Ch?: Bún noodles with grilled pork patties in broth Next to ph?, bún ch?, or bún noodles served with small, savory, crispy and caramelized sliced pork and pork patties, is second in line as the perfect example of Hanoi noodle dish. While there are noodles and there is broth, they arrive separately so this is not strictly a noodle soup. A pile of bún noodles is piled on a plate, and arrives with a bowl of warm to hot, light fish sauce based broth perked up with small slices of lightly pickled green papaya and carrot. These are accompanied by a basket of fresh herbs and vegetables which vary from place to place, but may include small lettuces, bean spouts, curled shredded morning glory (rau mu?ng) stems, cilantro, or some combination of minty, spicy Vietnamese herbs. Central to bún ch?are the tiny grilled pork patties (th?t b?m) or fatty pork slices (th?t mi?ng). These sometimes arrive on a separate small plate, but are most often dumped into the broth before it is brought to your table. The broth can be adjusted to taste with fresh chili slices or minced garlic, or a spoonful of vinegar infused with both chili and garlic. To eat, dip the noodles into the broth and take a bite together with the smoky, savory caramelized pork pieces. Chase this down with a crunchy piece of lettuce or zesty sprig of herb. Some people choose the wrap and dip approach, using the lettuce to bundle up some bún, a piece of pork and some herbs and dunking into the broth before wolfing the tasty package down. The classic accompaniment to bún ch?is nem cua b? (fried spring rolls), which are some combination of minced pork, crab meat, vermicelli (glass noodle), mushroom, and bean spouts, wrapped like an egg roll in a rice paper wrapper, and then fried. You can usually order these individually on the side. -L?u, or Vietnamese hot pot, is one of the great joys when cold weather descends on Hanoi. It is not only warming for the hands and belly, but it is also a communal experience made more agreeable by sharing with friends, huddled together around the steaming pot. L?u will be familiar to Chinese food connoisseurs as ” ??”, or hot pot, but as always, the Vietnamese have applied their own “characteristics.” Essentially, you get a big pot of soup and a heaping tray of stuff to put in it. The basic soup is a savory broth, laden with spices, MSG, tomatoes and pineapple (go figure), placed in front of you on top of what is, from what I can tell by observing, a 30 year-old burner fueled by an old can of spray paint. When a battered, unstable pot of boiling broth is balanced in front of you on a rattrap tin burner whose fuel can has just been encouraged to last a bit longer through a method involving banging it on the pavement for a minute or two, it’s best to have another swig of beer and remember that fate is an important part of the Vietnamese cosmology. Then tuck in to the deliciousness.The ingredients you get along side depend on what you order; seafood (L?u H?i S?n is seafood hot pot. L?u Th?p C?m is mixed meat and seafood.) Also on the plate will be large piles of greens, tofu, starchy taro root, and at least two kinds of noodles. Drop food in the broth, let it cook, take it out and eat! This job gets considerably tougher when your order the shrimp, which is often served live; throwing a live shrimp in a l?u pot will earn you a serious talking to by your boiling broth-spattered dining companions. You need to follow the lead of the restaurant staff and hold the shrimp securely with your chopsticks in the boiling soup until you feel it stop flipping its tail. Like all good food in Vietnam, l?u requires you to get up close and personal with your carnivore side. While waiting for your food to cook (or calling loudly for more free broth, or for extra noodles and greens for pennies), you can drink beer, chat with your friends, and enjoy the savory steam wafting from the roiling cauldron. L?u, warming your belly and your heart, seems like it was made for the misty winters in northern Vietnam.” -Snails, boiled and infused with the essence of ginger, lemongrass and lemon leaf, is an utterly simple yet delicious treat. Order bowls of small, large or mixed snails, which will arrive with a bowl of dipping sauce and a small green kumquat (to brighten the sauce) speared with a sliver of metal (to dig out the tasty snails). More than your usual n??c ch?m, or dipping sauce, the sauce for ?c starts with the same base of water, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and lime juice, but is boosted in fragrance and flavor from generous additions of lemongrass, ginger, chili and lemon/lime leaves. Once you are finished with your bowl (or two) of ?c, you can call for a bowl of n??c ?c or cooking broth. Dump your remaining dipping sauce in this to create a delicious soup that will chase away all ills, physical and spiritual. This essay referred information from some pages: https://hanoicorner.com/phpBB2/index.php
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