On our first full day in Hanoi, we wandered the Old Quarter. With a history spanning more than 2,000 years, the streets are a living, breathing history lesson. Each street is named for the types of items sold on the ancient streetsーHang Gai (Hemp Street) is now a silk paradise while metal workers now reside in the shops of Lo Ren (Blacksmith Street).
We started the day at the Ho Chi Minh Museum, part of the Communist leader’s mausoleum complex. The museum leans heavily toward Communist propaganda, but with a conceptual art twist. The story of Vietnam during the Uncle Ho (as he’s lovingly referred to by the people) era is told through abstract sculptures and immersive pieces. It’s also full of school children who we were told visit the mausoleum annually.
Uncle Ho’s Soviet counterpart, Vladimir Lenin, has his own ominous statue in a park across the street from Hanoi’s Army Museum. Workers are preparing for the 70th anniversary of Vietnam’s post-World War II independence.
A woman selling vegetables on a busy street near the Old Quarter.
A parked bicycle is transformed into a fruit stand on a sidewalk on the outskirts of the Old Quarter shops.
The Vietnam flag flies proudly from many homes. There’s a widely accepted story about the origins of the flag, but we haven’t heard much about the conflicting accounts of that story.
Another mobile fruit market attracts customers.
A flower vendor sizes up a pair of bouquets for a customer on the ever-present scooter
In the afternoon, we took a street food tour through Hanoi. Our first stop was for Pho Ga Tron, made, a popular summer dish made with cold noodles, veggies and peanuts. For three hours, we ducked into various stalls, apparently-empty shops and even through a garage into the second floor of a shop/home for some of Hanoi’s best eats.
Hanoi’s version of green papaya salad, a dish that’s also popular in Thailand. Our guide told us it’s called the “single woman’s snack” in Hanoi because it keeps women slim and also has bust-enhancing superpowers. Who knew?
Vietnam is one of the world’s major coffee producers and they do some unique things with it. This artful drink is called egg coffee and is served with whipped egg yolk on top. It was surprisingly good!
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