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Archive for June, 2016

One of Hanoi’s most common sights is that of streets packed with scooters, bicycles and cars swarming around pedestrians like a school of fish. Then there are the many sidewalk vendors and people simply out for a stroll and the popular Old Quarter is no exception so walking around this district is distinct from a leisurely stroll in the park. Visitors have no choice but to face the traffic in the local style but the experience of exploring the historical area is a must-do and truly well worth it.

There are the many sidewalk vendors and people simply out for a stroll and the popular Old Quarter is no exception so walking around this district is distinct from a leisurely stroll in the park. Visitors have no choice but to face the traffic in the local style but the experience of exploring the historical area is a must-do and truly well worth it.

A colleague  reminds me about a video named “36 hours in Hanoi” from New York Times and I realize that I have not written much about my beloved city. I would like to talk about my Hanoi, the values of cultural and living of more than 1,000 year city.

Unlike the younger Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city), Hanoi is the city with very old established history. For me Hanoi is like a living body which is beautiful but whose form is shaped by the variability of the times. Hanoi is where layers of era and history, coming and going, cascade like the geological stratum of time. Looking at the signs of fracture and remnants of an old Hanoi mixed with the symbols and imagines of the modern age makes me feel like I am excavating through historic layers of the metropolis. Indochina tours Vietnam

So I think of Hanoi as a living museum that embodies the complete archive of past memories and assimilates the following and changing rhythms of contemporary life.  Hanoi is changing fast, but with its tree-lined lanes, graceful old architecture, a flourishing arts scene and sophisticated night life, the city is having its moment.

In recent years, thanks to a new pride injected by 1,000th-birthday celebrations in 2010, an influx of entrepreneurial Vietnamese returnees, expats and a creative Internet-enabled population, the city’s pulse has quickened. With a number of construction projects threatening older neighborhoods, and an exodus of residents from the city to suburbs like West Lake, Hanoi is changing fast. But right now, it feels poised over a sweet spot, its tree-lined lanes and graceful old architecture, traditional culture and fantastic street food complemented by a contemporary arts scene that’s managed to survive bouts of censorship, idiosyncratic boutiques and increasingly sophisticated dining and night life.

Saint Joseph Cathedral, located at 40 Nha Chung street, Hanoi, is a Roman Catholic cathedral with neo- gothic style, which was built about 120 years ago

Saint Joseph Cathedral, located at 40 Nha Chung street, Hanoi, is a Roman Catholic cathedral with neo- gothic style, which was built about 120 years ago

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Street Foods is available every street in the Old Quarter

A small lane in the Old Quarter

A small lane in the Old Quarter

The Long Bien Bridge was constructed from 1989 to 1902 during French’s occupation of the country which was formerly named Paul Doumer by the French, but Vietnamese have called it Long Bien or Cai River Bridge for a long time, and Long Bien becomes the most popular name of the bridge. Originally, Long Bien had 19 spans and it was the first steel bridge across Red river in Hanoi, and one of four greatest bridges in the world at the time it was built.

The Long Bien Bridge was constructed from 1989 to 1902 during French’s occupation of the country which was formerly named Paul Doumer by the French, but Vietnamese have called it Long Bien or Cai River Bridge for a long time, and Long Bien becomes the most popular name of the bridge. Originally, Long Bien had 19 spans and it was the first steel bridge across Red river in Hanoi, and one of four greatest bridges in the world at the time it was built.

If you are about to visit Hanoi for a few days, it is very likely that you will reside somewhere near Hoan Kiem Lake. The lake is considered the center of Hanoi, not only physically but also symbolically. In fact, the more you spend time learning about the lake, the more special it becomes.

If you are about to visit Hanoi for a few days, it is very likely that you will reside somewhere near Hoan Kiem Lake. The lake is considered the center of Hanoi, not only physically but also symbolically. In fact, the more you spend time learning about the lake, the more special it becomes.

Hoan Kiem lake in the early morning

Hoan Kiem lake in the early morning

Sunset on the biggest lake of Hanoi - Ho Tay (West Lake)

Sunset on the biggest lake of Hanoi – Ho Tay (West Lake)

Ho Chi Minh mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and Ba Dinh square

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Photo credit: Cao Anh Tuan, Nhat Nam

P/s: Video of “36 Hours in Hanoi”: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/travel/things-to-do-in-36-hours-in-hanoi.html?_r=0

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People in Cambodia are well-known for their hospitality and warmth. Out of respect, visitors to the Kingdom should take care to observe local customs and practices. You may find it useful to familiarize yourself with the following common dos and don’ts before embarking on your trip to Cambodia.

DOs in Cambodia

  • Ask for permission before taking photographs of any Cambodian people or monks.
  • It is customary to remove your shoes when entering a place of worship such as a pagoda or temple. Additionally, visitors should dress appropriately when inside a religious site (upper arms and legs should be covered, hats removed).
  • It is respectful to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.
  • Though not always expected, a respectful way of greeting another individual is to bow the head slightly with hands pressed together at the chest (known as “Sampeah”).
  • If invited to dine in a Cambodian family’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift for the host such as fruit, dessert, or flowers.
  • If invited to attend a Cambodian wedding, it is customary to bring cash as a wedding gift.
  • When using a toothpick at the table, use one hand to cover your mouth.
  • Keep business cards ready, and present them with both hands. Accept business cards with both hands.

DON’Ts in Cambodia

  • Don’t use your feet to point at someone.
  • Don’t touch a Cambodian person on the head.
  • Don’t begin eating if you are a guest at a dinner and the host has yet to take a bite.
  • Women should never touch male monks or hand something directly to them.
  • Keep public displays of affection to a respectful minimum.

Commonsense Practices

  • Do not litter; keep our community clean and safe
  • Plastic bags can be hazardous; dispose them properly

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