Saturday, 22 June 2013

Hanoi & the hill tribes

Hanoi in the early 1990’s was different from Saigon. Much more a sense of State control. 

The museum's tribute to the war of independence included a panoramic model of Dien Bien Phu surrounded by French tourists of a certain age recalling their place in the battle. There are numerous collections of arms, munitions and pilots helmets recovered during the fighting.

A military history museum

The traffic in Hanoi even then was becoming a challenge. The side roads were still quiet, but in the busiest hours the main streets were a continuous flow of mopeds and motorbikes moving at speed and stopping for nothing. You really did take your life in your hands when crossing the road.  These days it's much worse.
Before the traffic really deteriorated

At night the streets came alive to the noise and smells of Hanoi street food. The locals set out their stalls on the pavement and start cooking.  My favourite was an elderly lady who turned the front of an oily garage into her emporium, producing the most amazing chilli beef on a two upturned crates.

The Hanoi Flag Tower.
Over 200 years old with views across  the city .
Hanoi was the base to travel upto the Sapa hill tribes for a proposed development programme. In the early 1990's  Sa Pa District was just opening up and outsiders were a rarity.
Sa Pa is a land to take your breath away, but only when the sun comes out. Otherwise the view is restricted to a few metres of fog and drizzle and there are many days of fog in Sa Pa.
Rice terraces