What to see in Hanoi city?
Perhaps one of the places that I liked the most that I visited in Vietnam was Hanoi. Its name strikes me as evocative, poetic, and the truth is that from the first moment I felt comfortable there, despite the heat and humidity that received us like a slap when we got off the plane.
The Old Quarter
Known to the French as Cité Indigéne, a mark of the colonial past, Hanoi’s Old Quarter is an amalgamation of streets and alleys made up of colonial buildings, most of which look like they are about to go downhill. The mold and the verdigris generated by the climate are the owners of the walls, apart from the bundles of cables that cover their corners …
Going out to the streets very soon gives you the beginning of the day. People come and go to buy bread, have a soup squatting for breakfast, buy fruit …
The neighborhood is also made of a tide of motorcycles and cycles that after a few hours of walking you come to hate even the deepest part of your being. The pedestrian, at least the Westerner like me, will feel slighted and threatened in rush hour traffic, I assure you.
Streets with sidewalks absolutely invaded by parked motorcycles (again), street stalls, or the ladies who go out to kill the chicken for dinner, armed with a kitchen knife – I save you the “during”
Hoa Kiem Lake
But Hanoi has its islands of peace amid all the hustle and bustle, such as the famous Hoa Kiem Lake and the narrow but refreshing park that surrounds it.
The legend says that heaven sent a sword Emperor Le Thai To (s. XV) to expel the Chinese from Vietnam. One day after the battle he found a giant tortoise swimming there. The tortoise took the sword with it, they say to return it to its divine owners.
It is highly recommended to sit for a while to observe Vietnamese leisure , or to contemplate the waters of doubtful cleanliness. You can search with a dreamy look for signs of one of those turtles that say that they inhabit the lake and that bring luck to those who see them.
The Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is another of the most famous places and also “oasis” of Hanoi. It is true that I was surprised by how “Chinese” it looks, but it is full of details, starting with the turtles that are symbols of intelligence, intellect.
Here the first university of Hanoi was established, to educate the children of the mandarins.
And yes, it is that I imagined or aspired to find a more differential identity in Vietnam, but it turns out not. The Chinese influence is palpable in every corner and of course in its temples.
Ho Chi Min Mausoleum
I close my eyes and remember the visit to the mausoleum of Ho Chi Min, a man who did not want to be buried or venerated, just simply cremated. Instead look, he has ended up embalmed and exposed to the gazes of all kinds of strangers, of all nationalities, who parade before his corpse.
A visit in which you cannot stop (necessarily), in which you find yourself in a huge room with reddish lights, candles, perfectly still “tin soldiers” except to ask you to put your hands behind your back and shut up. Of course, cameras and everything else have to be left out.
They say that every year they send good old Ho Chi Min to Russia for conservation.
The water puppet show
The water puppet show is an ancient tradition that can be seen today in a theater by Hoa Kiem Lake . Theater that is usually crowded with tourists. Tip: buy tickets in advance, that morning for example.
It is difficult to abstract from the inevitable feeling of “guirilandia”, but the show is very beautiful, with musicians setting the rhythm of the marionettes that are handled by men and women with very long sticks.
But besides what to see, in Hanoi it feels
Maybe I thought it was a nice city because as we arrived, at around 6 in the morning , we went out for a walk and we found a quiet city (still), the smell of freshly baked bread (baguettes are one of the French inheritances that have remained), fruit vendors (especially lychees) who offer you to try it with a big smile and kindness, people having breakfast their bowl of soup (pho) with noodles and meat in the mini-chairs where they always sit down to eat in the street and how much they had surprised me a few years before in Burma …
I close my eyes and I remember how the monsoon suddenly discharges and in a perfect learned synchronization, the bikers stop for half a second to put on a plastic layer with which to protect themselves and their motorcycle (dear motorcycle?), And continue under the torrent of water. Torrent that did not last more than 20 or 25 minutes and that does not make you feel cold, because the heat continues.
There is more Hanoi, much more Hanoi than what I count here . I close my eyes and keep evoking images, sensations, temperatures, tastes, smells, movements, and I think that I would not mind going back, despite the fact that Vietnam is not one of the destinations that has especially moved or amazed me, and I really don’t know Very well because.