The Old Quarter
Trip Start Mar 03, 2008
11Trip End Apr 01, 2008
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The Camellia is still there on Trung Yen but Mr. Quang has retired and the prices have doubled from $5 to $10 per night. The street market is just around the corner
Around the neighborhood "Homeland Security" is provided by the Feline Surveillance Committee:
There are more and larger cars and SUVs everywhere: BMWs, Lexus, Toyotas and I've been told there are even Hummers. Clearly there is prosperity for some but for most its much the same. There are even traffic signals but not all drivers respect them so if you are wanting to cross the street you still have to have your wits about you. The traffic is a brutal mix of buses, SUVs, trucks, cars, taxis, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians. The right of way is ultimately determined by the size of the vehicle.
Though Hanoi has become a busy polluted city there are still many quiet and beautiful areas to be found. Ho Hoan Kiem (Hoan Kiem Lake) is one such place.
Each of the over one million inhabitants is a story. I discovered a part of one this morning while in the market in the Old Quarter. As I stalked a photo of a group of elderly women sitting just outside their front door which fronts on the market I felt a soft touch on my elbow and heard what I thought was French with a very heavy Vietnamese accent.
I turned to discover a lean old Vietnamese man with pith helmet. I strained to understand what he was saying. I asked him in French where he learned the language. I heard something about Angola. He had studied in Angola! He asked me if I was French. I said no I was American. His eyes got big and he smiled. Yes, I said I have returned to the Vietnam that I grown to love to repair some of the damage I was involved in creating. One of the shopkeepers agreed to take our photo after he requested some dollars. I said I only had Vietnamese Dong (VND)and caught the approving eyes of nearby shopkeepers as I offered him 2000VND. In a flash he was gone and no one seemed to know his name.
Where I stayed