|Lady fruit sellers wait for customers in Old Town Hanoi|
After finding some croissants in a nearby café, I head out for a walk around the city’s old quarter. Hanoi is a city that's 1,000 years old. Although this ancient commercial neighborhood is limited by narrow streets, the business scene here is really bustling. Asian style shophouses are packed tightly together, selling all manner of local and imported goods. Everyone I see in the old town is busy browsing, buying, or trying to make a sale. Street vendors in conical hats sell fresh fruit, while the ever present motorbikes buzz on by.
|French colonial architecture in Old Town|
|Old archway entrance in Hanoi|
|The Presidential Palace, former home of the French colonial governor.|
As I leave the old quarter and explore other areas of the downtown, I find that many of the old French colonial buildings still survive. Close to Hoan Kiem Lake, there are the majestic Opera House, many old restaurants and lovely French villas. Some government offices in Hanoi still work out of old yellow colonial buildings from the French era. The Presidential Palace is immaculate, and
|Italian restaurant in Old Town. International eateries are becoming more popular.|
Since Hanoi had been bombed so many times during the war with the US, I was imagining that the old city must have been reduced to rubble back then, like Berlin during World War II. I was expecting to find blase communist blocks; I’m surprised to see that so many of Hanoi's old historic buildings have survived. These lovely old neighborhoods give Hanoi a romantic air, a sense of history that is hard to find elsewhere in Vietnam.