Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wandering in Hanoi

I have one free day to go around Hanoi before I take the night train to Sapa. I decided to just slow down today, and devoted my morning on sleeping, watching TV, and packng my stuff. At 11 am I checked out of the hostel.

Sunday in the city does not mellow it down; it's the same vibrancy and chaos, qualities of Hanoi that has pretty much suited me quite well.

My first stop for the day was the Hanoi Hilton, or the Hoa Lo Prison. It was established by the French to mostly house Vietnamese insurgents. The museum is a thought-provoking glimpse of the harrowing experience of the Vietnamese prisoners who suffered under the hands of the French. After their liberation from the French, it was converted by the Vietnamese into a prison for American soldiers that they caught. On display are John McCain's (spelling?) flight suit when he was captured by the Vietnamese and pictures of him visiting the museum in 2000.

From the prison, I wandered around the wide streets of the area south of Hoan Kiem Lake, passing by a few embassies, including the Philippines'. Photos were not allowed. More wide streets later, I stumbled into numerous magnificent colonial buildings, some of which I did not bother to know their names. Basta they were wonderful! The most striking was the Hanoi Opera House, which could've fit perfectly in Paris.

(1) Hanoi Opera House; (2) Some random building, an example of the beautiful architecture in Hanoi.

I dropped by the Museum of National History, a truly remarkable east-meets-west landmark.

More aimless wandering led me to some tree-shaded parks, which I realized were all over the city. I am truly in love with how they decided to keep the city's trees despite urban growth.

The cool, cloudy weather was just perfect to be outside. I decided to sit in an outdoor cafe, read a book in between watching the traffic crawl. The residents of Hanoi are very serious about their coffee shops. Hundreds can be found scattered all over the city, and they're mostly brimming with people chatting, smoking, or just people watching. This is exactly my kind of thing, isn't it?

Hoan Kiem Lake was beautiful on a Sunday afternoon, attracting a large number of families, lovers, and tourists.
Later in the afternoon, I negotiated my way through the mayhem of the Old Quarter where I eventually ended up in a small restaurant for dinner.


bkkdreamer said...

It looks like a nice place. I like the last pic, especially.

kawadjan said...

bkk dreamer: hanoi is wonderful! you should drop by here sometime soon.

thanks for the visit to the blog. ;)


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