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The ‘Hangs’ of Hanoi

When I think back to the several days I spent in Hanoi, I remember the smell of lilies occasionally wafting through the air and the whir of motorcycle wheels speeding by. We spent hours wandering the Old Quarter of the city. Traditionally each street sold a specific ‘hang,’ merchandise, leading to names like Silk Street. Some streets are still like this today — overflowing with shoes, kitchen and hardware supplies, or even gravestones.

Hoan Kiem Lake creates a central point in Hanoi where people come to stroll, couples canoodle and kids beg their parents for ice cream. One thing I loved about Hanoi was how alive and young it seemed while at the same time being a city that is over a thousand years old.

In Hanoi, people are always stopping and sitting down on plastic stools to drink tea or beer and have some food. There seems to be an endless stream of motorcycles around every corner. This makes crossing the street an adventure or a terrifying experience, depending on your perspective (my mother chose to close her eyes and be guided across).

Ngoc Son Temple sits on an island in Hoan Kiem Lake. It’s a quiet and calm place to escape the motorcycles and stare at the lake, while always hoping you’ll catch a glimpse of the enormous turtle that lives in its depths (sadly, I didn’t, but the remains of his cousin are on display).

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