Hoan Kiem Lake-Hanoi
Hanoi a Thousand years old city
Hanoi ranks among the world's most attractive and interesting cities. Originally named Thang Long or "City of the Ascending Dragon," the city was first the capital of Vietnam in A.D. 1010 and has had many names until its current incarnation. The name Hanoi, in fact, means "bend in the river" and denotes the city's strategic location along the vital waterway. Historians liken the life-giving Red River -- its banks crowded with green rice paddies and farms -- to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, a cradle of civilization. Even when the nation's capital moved to Hue under the Nguyen dynasty in 1802, the city of Hanoi continued to flourish, especially after the French took control in 1888 and modeled the city's architecture to their tastes, lending an important aesthetic to the city's rich stylistic heritage, even expanding the city and adding rail connections over the Long Bien Bridge in 1902. In 1954, after the French departed, Hanoi was declared Vietnam's capital once again. The city boasts more than 1,000 years of history, and that of the past few hundred years is marvelously preserved.
The most obvious reminders of the past in Hanoi are written in the vestiges of precolonial and colonial buildings -- low facades tucked beneath towers of concrete, especially in the city's Old Quarter. But even these centuries-old structures are recent, considering the rich history here that dates back thousands of years.
Hanoi has a reputation, doubtless accrued from the Vietnam War years, as a dour northern political outpost. The city is certainly smaller, slower, and far less developed than chaotic Saigon, but Hanoi's 6 million residents still seem to be in constant motion -- an endless stream of motorbike and bicycle traffic. You'll see some vestiges of Soviet-influenced concrete monolith architecture here, along with plenty of beautiful, quiet streets and tranquil neighborhoods to explore. The city's placid air gives it a gracious, almost regal flavor. Hanoi is dotted with dozens of lakes -- small and large -- around which you can usually find a cafe, a pagoda or two, and absorbing vignettes of street life.
Hanoi Old Quarter
The ancient streets of Hanoi is the Old Quarter, each are named after the crafts and speciality trades traditionally practised by the original artisan's guilds in the 15th century. Each guild was grouped around a temple, or communal house "Dinh", dedicated to the particular beliefs of the village from where the guild originated, and many of these temples are open to the public today. The early merchant's quarter affords an intriguing glimpse into life centuries ago with covered markets, and the ancient narrow buildings that still line the streets, known as tube or tunnel houses that contained shops. Businesses were taxed according to the width of their storefront at that time and resulted in shops only seven foot (2m) wide with a series of storerooms, workshops and living quarters extending behind to a length of up to 197ft (60m). Many streets are still devoted to a predominant trade such as silks on Hang Gai str, religious objects or textiles on Hang Quat str, silver jewellery on Hang Bac str, antiques on Hang Dao & Hang Gai str, and there are numerous art galleries and craft stores, as well as cafes and pavement restaurants lining the streets. Traffic within the Old Quarter is a chaotic mix of bicycles, motorbikes and pedestrians passing noisily down the narrow streets and shady alleyways.
The most common way to crosss the street here is to walk slowly and firmly ahead without step back, you will see the flow of traffic drives amazingly around you.
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