Monday, November 30, 2009

Hanoi street scenes

[NOTE: When we traveled to Vietnam in 2009, I used Posterous for a lot of the photo hosting for this blog, because it as an easy way email photos from my phone.

With the subsequent death of Posterous, now most of my Vietnam travel posts have broken image links... I have the photos still, but it will take some time to recreate the visual narratives... Apologies for broken links below.]

Some random pics from our 2nd day in Hanoi:
Hoan Kiem lake (near our hotel):

Saw these stencils all over town and have been speculating over what they might be. We showed a photo to the receptionist at the hotel and she said they are... (wait for it...) advertisements for a mortgage refinancing company. Bill posting is, I believe, not allowed, so these would be guerrilla advertisements, and harder to remove than handbills (which we also saw -- took us a while to realize they were advertising the same thing -- I think it's the initials of a company, and then their phone number):

The streets in old town are named for what the vendors historically have sold. Sometimes the name matches what they are still selling, sometimes not so much anymore. This is counterfeit street -- we think it would historically would sell the fake money and dollar bills that buddhists leave on altars as gifts for their ancestors -- these shops probably still sell that kind of thing, because we've seen it everywhere on altars. However right now, the whole street is full of these (I think) wedding decorations:

And Christmas decorations:

Blacksmith street -- all things metal, welded, soldered, forged, etc. We did see a blacksmith working on the sidewalk, but didn't get a shot of it. Hard to see in the pic, but these are metal birdcages (a lot of people keep songbirds here, maybe the way we would keep houseplants), metal hat racks (many businesses have hat racks for umbrellas and motorbike helmets), metal garment fixtures, etc:

I don't remember what street we were on when we came across these kewpie dolls...

Or this music store -- most of the stuff in the front was for tourists, but they had some playable guitars in the back, and I saw some decent violin cases stashed up above in storage:

High-end wedding dress shop in the French quarter:

Rollercoaster in Lenin Park:

After being turned away from a popular French bistro whose kitchen had already closed, we had our best meal yet this afternoon at a hospitality/food/beverage training school for disadvantaged kids called Hoa Sua School. A very quiet, peaceful courtyard in a beautiful French colonial building (quiet is rare here... exactly what we were hoping to find after 2 days of walking through traffic and crowded sidewalks). Great food, reasonably priced -- and really great service (though they're learning, so occasionally a supervisor would step in to help, or take over and demonstrate). Daniel had Vietnamese, I ate French. The servers were darling. We had a lot of fun here -- plan to have dinner here again before we leave:

Tried the local Vietnamese (Dalat) wine for the first time -- we had actually tried a glass in Hoi An earlier, but it had been open too long and had turned to vinegar, so it wasn't really a fair try. We ordered a bottle here, and it was actually quite good - light-bodied and very drinkable (I'm not a big wine connoisseur, but I enjoyed it, and Daniel said it was good):

Duck l'orange:

Our server on the left. After the meal, we tried to let her know what a good job she had done (her English was quite adequate for taking our order and meeting our needs, but beyond that, she had a hard time understanding us, so it took a few minutes to get the point across). She seemed to think she didn't do a very good job (she said no, she is "very bad" -- maybe because she needed help opening the wine, tried to clear our dessert plate a little too early). But in the end, I think we made it clear that we'd had a great meal.


Anti-smoking poster outside of the World Health Organization office:

Evening tai chi warmups:


Last post for a couple of days as we'll be in Halong Bay.


  1. These photos and your narratives are terrific! Everything from Tai Chi to Banjos - What a great kaleidoscope of color and culture. No wonder your Kewpie is always smiling :) -- dewdad

  2. Sounds like you are having a totally awesome time. You've got to snag some photos of some of the more unidentifiable items you have come across ... three guesses who this is ...

  3. We will miss you both tonite @ book club. I am really loving your descriptive blogging Kim. The pics & stories behind them are lots of fun. Can't wait to see the tailored garments & hear more stories when you return! Pam

  4. Kim, did you know you were sitting on a duck? The Tai Chi warmup photo is my favorite, tho.


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