--Hanoi street scene

I arrived in Hanoi off the night train from Hue at about 4am in the morning. It was still dark. I had been given the address of a family hotel which had been recommended to me. I negotiated a fare for a ride on the back of a motorcycle using finger language and we headed off into this strange new city.

© david.atkinson@rmit.edu.au
created 21 June 2002

Imagine my delight when I woke up later that day to find all this directly outside my hotel. In every nook and cranny along the street, some kind of commercial enterprise was underway. Books I had read described Hanoi as a gray city whose people were oppressed by a system that wanted rigid control over the lives of its citizens and encouraged neighbour to spy on neighbour. But the Hanoi I found was quite different from this bleak picture. Not only was it springtime it terms of the season I travelled there, but it seemed a springtime had erupted for the people who were enthusiastically embracing new found control over their lives. Although the streets were chaotic with activity, even this small back street was spotlessly free of rubbish as you can see. During the night, an army of orange overall clad men and women descend on the city to sweep the streets and cart away the day's trash. My hotel was just a few doors up from this Chinese temple. The street was much, much busier than it looks in this image since I had to wait until people had cleared both edges of frame before I snapped each picture otherwise they would have been sliced in half when I pasted them all together. Because this panorama was made over a period of several minutes, the old lady in the dark blue blouse carrying the first sprigs of spring blooms, appears twice walking in different directions.

That's my hotel above. The four story white building with the decorative arched verandahs. Hanoi is a picturesque old city of exotic decay. If you're planning to go, get there soon as Hanioites see little value in their crumbling old buildings which are rapidly being torn down and replaced with structures like the one opposite my hotel as family business flourish. Note that telephone number. It could be important.

See a bridge near my hotel?
See a dump in Mytho?
An Australian bush panorama?