25 Jun - 30 Jun 2010 Hanoi

Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Scamcity Hanoi
Old Quarter
Hoan Kiem District
Dao Duy Tu Lane 8/50
Spacious double room with wifi for only US$ 12.- per night.
Friendly staff; good English.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Indochina Queen Hotel in Hanoi, which we would recommend, and for directions:

Exploring the maze of 36 guild streets and back streets in Hanoi’s chaotic Old Quarter which is steeped in history, pulsating with life, bubbling with commerce, buzzing with motorbikes and rich in exotic scents thus having great encounters with (i) its Chinese legacy at the small 11th-century Bach Ma Temple, the oldest temple in the city, (ii) its French legacy with fresh cheese baguettes (available at any time of day or night) and (iii) its Eastern European legacy (original Russian bubbly aka sovietskoje champanskoje for the steal of only VND 80,000.- or US$ 4.20 per bottle and bia hơi, the fresh, light-bodied draft which was first introduced to Vietnam by the socialist Czechs in the 1970s, for VND 4,000.- or US$ 0.20 per pint).

Experiencing firsthand that Hanoi's crammed Old Quarter, with its 70,000 plus inhabitants, has a population density of c. 850 people per hectare - nearly eight times New York City's.  


Comparing our stays in "capitalist" Saigon and in "socialist" Hanoi, psychologising about the still existing Vietnamese North-South divide and generalising politically incorrect (using our trips to South Vietnam as benchmarks [1], [2], [3]) about the perceived deficiencies of many of the North Vietnamese who were shaped and are still scarred by decades of Marxist-Leninist propaganda and command economy: (i) their trend of shirking from a look and avoiding eye contact with strangers, unless they want to (hard-)sell their merchandise to you, (ii) their lack of skills to honestly and flexibly negotiate a win-win deal, quite often hidden under a rude and brusque take-it-or-leave-it attitude, and (iii) their menfolk's “hard face” with a short supply of the common Southeast Asian smile, as if they were still at war (either with China or with tourists or with themselves).
“Ev'rybody's talking about
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism
Madism, Ragism, Tagism
This-ism, That-ism, is-m, is-m, is-m
All we are saying is give peace a chance.”

Watching a wonderful performance of the ancient art of roi nuoc (water puppetry which originated with rice farmers who worked the flooded fields of the Red River Delta) at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre +84439364335 (admission VND 60,000.- or US$ 3.20 per person). 

Laundering for VND 15,000.- or US$ 0.80 per kg, washed and dried, at one of the many convenient no-name neigbourhood laundries. 

Leaving Hanoi, the fascinating blend of East and West which combines traditional Sino-Vietnamese motifs with French flair, and taking the northbound LC 3 train (soft seat air-con, VND 140,000.- or US$ 7.40 per person) from Hanoi’s Tran Quy Cap Station (situated on the west side of Ga Ha Noi, Hanoi's main railway station) along the Red River to Lao Cai (on the Chinese border) in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains aka Tonkinese Alps, and climbing thereafter in a hired van (c. 35 km, 3/4 hour, VND 60,000.- or US$ 3.20 per person) on a winding mountain road along terraced rice paddies to the touristy mountain town Sapa (1,650 m above sea level).

Click below for more blog posts about North Vietnam
2010 Map Konni & Matt

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Facing Vietnam
 © Konni & Matt

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