Hà Nội Miscellany

Two people sitting on seat by water. A morning conversation beside Thiền Quang Lake in central Hà Nội The last page offered an idiosyncratic view of Edinburgh, here attention turns to Hà Nội. The city has a particularly humid climate which owes much to being at just above sea level, although a 100 miles (160 Km) from the sea. The low level marshy area, on which Hà Nội was founded 1,000 years ago, means it is dotted with lakes: six of major size, scores smaller, and thousands of patches of water. The mile wide Red River, with virtually no drop in height, meanders around city, in the past this seriously restricted travel to the... ...north and west. Hà Nội is so full of corners of interest that a page, such as this, seems misleading by implying that the pool of curiosity is limited. Many other pages on aspects and parts of Hà Nội are planned, and a set of pages with photographs of the Hoàn Kiếm area is already in place. The selection is that of a curious, and very fond, ex-pat. Photographs can never burrow into the intriguing and complex social institutions which form the basis of this ancient community; a community of extraordinary cultural richness. White support with plaque and small lake with metal debris beyond. Getting a myth out of the way at the top of the page: the American attack on Vietnam (the Vietnam War as we curiously call it) was very long ago, and, in the collective young mind of Vietnam, belongs to previous generations. Further it was only for a very brief period (20 years during the war) that there was an imposed division of the country into north and south. So finding traces of the war and that division is not easy. But here is the main one in Hà Nội, the remains of a B-52 bomber shot down in December 1972 and which still protrudes from Hữu Tiệp Lake, (also called Đầm Tròn Lake) along with a plaque giving the designation of 'Historical Site'. Men at bar in dim red light. Ex-pat bars are plentiful. My favourite, when living in the Old Town, was the Half Man Half Noodle. Dimly lit, with an engaging menu on the wall; a continuation of which is... Section of menu on wall. ...shown above: 'Open Very Late!', it includes a 'B 52', and an Orgasm, both no doubt with special appeal to the older age group attracted to such places Greek style colinaded floodlite monument with range of lights on either side. Hồ Chí Minh is still everywhere. Literally so in this, his mausoleum, where he sits embalmed by the people that also gave us Lenin Man's chest with tattoo of Ho Chi Minh's head on his left breast. But some want to keep him nearer their hearts Workshop grounds with many statues in while material. This "Fine Art Workshop" has statues from many cultures, but dominant, at the right, is a bust of President Hồ Pillion holding a large portrait of Chairman Ho. Almost every house and office has some representation of the leader, usually in the form of a portrait Styalised sixty foot statue, small group of people near base. In general there are few statues of dignitaries in Hà Nội. This giant is Quang Trung one of Vietnam's outstanding strategists who was emperor of the country in the late eighteenth century. It seems to make up in bulk what Edinburgh has in profusion Two fighting cocks. Again in contrast to Edinburgh, Statues of animals are unseen. Whereas animals are common. These cocks have their bills muzzled, showing they would be fighting if allowed A heard of cattle on a pavement with a line of tower blocks behind. And this is no composite although I myself find it hard to credit this heard on the delicately tilled pavement near the tower blocks - the shadow of my crash helmet intrudes Tiger looking listlessly out between bars. Caging large cats in central Hà Nội is sadly still accepted, this poor tiger is kept in the zoo in Bách Thảo Park White cat sitting on chair with tether. I am in favour of tethering cats. Here the reason is not to stop birds being eaten, but to deter would-be cat eaters Two open fronted shops on the street, walls covered to the ceiling with stuffed toys, mostly bears. A Bear Market. This one is on Lương Văn Can - a key shopping street in the Old Quarter Santa manikin with sax, next to tiny artificial tree at front of gas hob shop. Stuffed bears to manikins. An ordinary shop selling gas hobs is fronted by a gyrating saxophone playing Santa Claus. Santa was originally Dutch, Anglicised by the American theologian Moore, here with a tree from winter celebrations in Siberia - so globalisation is made patent! Three steps in front of a door covered in bunches of bananas, two people and motorbikes. From the comfort of my room window, looking down on the sales people below. Here banana sales; produce brought in each day from the country, takes over a door step, the door's owner will carefully and politely step round the produce; imagine that degree of tolerance in the UK Concrete five story smooth walled block, man on small plank on wall at top level. A tethered man works on a board six floors up. At one person for every 30 square metres (6 times the density of London), and no buildings over about 6 stories, the old town of Hà Nội is packed. New developments are crammed in, all without any 'safety-at-work' legislation Looking down onto top of piles of circular kitchen items next to Vietnamese hat. Another downward shot. The hat has a foot behind it
- the plastic containers do not
Large oval floral wreaths on stands. And a slip while at work in high places? Wreaths on sale Building under construction with man standing on unfenced platform fifty feet up. Fortunately Vietnamese sense of balance is... Man riding motorbike holding tray with bowls on his flat left hand - wiater style. ...extraordinary - here shown in the delivery of bowls of soup Large mirror on back of truck reflecting motorsyclists, tree and shops with reversed signs over them. Of course it is true of most oriental countries that nothing is as it seems to western vision.
A reversed world in transit
Unprotected railway line with motorbike parked between rails. The Hà Nội to China main line
- otherwise motorbike park
Two wedding couples being photographed on walkway beside train. That main train line over the river
- otherwise wedding shoot set
Wide street with whole central area covered in soil. The normal frenetic four lane Đinh Tiên Hoàng street by... Street covered in flowerbeds with crowds on either side. ...the city's main post office being converted to gardens, with (above) the resulting show. This display
marked the beginning of the year 2010
when Hà Nội celebrated its
thousandth birthday
Very large crowd filling street into the far distance. But this crowd, on the same street - gardens yet to come - are celebrating a different sort of history: the defeat of Thailand at football in 2009 The four numerals of 1000 made out of plastic flowers waiting on the ground to be used. Here are a set of the numbers that were used for that 1,000 jubilation. The city
has changed its name a couple of
times since it was founded as
Thăng Long in AD 1010
Centre of picture on pavement, woman's back on plastic chair, grey hair to the ground, conical hat down to chair back, another woman beyond. Festivities over, calm returns. These two older women, like thousands of others, are sitting outside shops and cafes minutely augmentaing their income by selling small items. The near one, hat and hair, offers cigarettes from the box on her black bag Trailers... Motorcycle with washing machines and water heaters strapped to it. The next page of this section dwells on the strange burdens seen on motorcycles in Vietnam. Path through trees to distance with autumn colours. The next page of the Mosaic Section is headed 'Stories'.
Or go to the contents Go to the contents of the Mosaic Section. of the Mosaic Section.
Saturday 18th December 2021 Murphy on duty ...guide to this site

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