An American Abroad

Vietnam: Hanoi, Part 2

Hanoi’s history as a French colonial capital is still very much in evidence. There are gracious tree-lined boulevards fronted by beautiful old mansions.

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There are still some colonial commercial buildings, now sandwiched in between more modern structures, and even some Art Deco touches.

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Near a striking mustard-colored church, various sidewalk vendors congregate and sit calmly waiting for customers.

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There are all kinds of cages, too.

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On our last night in Hanoi, we went to a bar noted for making pho cocktails. The production of this drink is quite elaborately pyrotechnical.

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My overall impression of Hanoi was of an artful, elegant, somewhat formal city. I loved the French/Vietnamese aesthetic. And I was struck — both in Hanoi and Hoi An — by the friendliness of the people and the high level of personal service provided by hoteliers, waiters, and other employees of the tourism industry. Given how much carnage we Americans visited on this country, such attitudes were especially surprising and inspirational to me.

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