on Charley and Jane in Vietnam (Vietnam), 24/Sep/2009 04:38, 34 days ago
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Hanoi is a fascinating city. It has served as the political centre of independent Vietnam since 1010 AD (yes, that means next year is the city's millenium). It is located on the right bank of the Red River. At this stage in its development its a beguiling mixture of 19th century French colonial architecture (tree-lined boulevards such as Phan Dinh Phung Street) cheek by jowl with (my favorite) crumbling neo-communist 'brutalist' concrete apartment blocks and modern high-rise towers and shopping centres. Unfortunately for the romantic the future lays with the latter architectural form. Eventually it will look like everywhere else in the world. How sad. But the hustle and bustle of the streets is bound to remain– its quite impossible to describe how 'busy' the place is. Sitting at the streetside cafes, eating 'pho' drinking beer at the bia hoi (a local form of weak 'fresh' beer). At all times of the day and night going somewhere, doing something, moving around. Huge loads are carried on the backs of bikes and motorcycles – oh look someone's fallen off – oh dear he had a thousand eggs on the back which have smashed across the road. Its exhausting being in the middle of it but – for me at least – wonderfully exciting. And they tell us that Ho Chi Minh City isbusierthan Hanoi!