Hanoi and Haiphong
Vietnam’s capital is described by almost all who go there as "an old-fashioned city". Old-fashioned in style, it is a city of lakes, parks, trees, villas, mansions and an area called the Old French Quarter where crumbling houses are crammed into narrow alleyways that are still named after the goods that were traded there - Silk Street, Gold Street, even Fried Fish Street!
Old-fashioned in atmosphere, Hanoi has sidewalk cafes, pavement barbers, less traffic than Saigon, less frenetic rushing about, less noise, simply less people. Wide tree-lined bicycle-filled boulevards, elegant colonial French mansions, the grandeur and solemnity of Ho Chi Minh’s monumental Mausoleum, the incongruous rustic simplicity of the house in which ‘Uncle Ho’ lived out his final years, the barely concealed misery of the Hoa Lo Prison, the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ where so many prisoners of war were incarcerated, the religious pride that constructed the beautiful temple of Literature compound - it’s all here in Hanoi, a microcosm of the Vietnamese culture.