Yes, even English teachers have meetings. We had a long weekend in Hà Nội for some meetings, and I had a morning to sneak away and take some photos. As regular readers know, I usually eschew the “tourist” pictures simply because you can easily Google things like Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum, or the Temple of Literature or the Old Quarter and see all you want of the city’s tourist sites.
It’s the end of winter in Hà Nội now, and that means yucky weather. Not necessarily cold, but always damp and overcast.
Please be sure to click on each photo so you can see the full size version.
Hà Nội , like most Vietnamese cities, is a city of alleyways. It hides the real city from the tourists who seldom venture far from the main streets, but life teems in the alleys. Many are too narrow for automobiles and are better suited for motorbikes. I merely stepped outside the place we stayed to catch this young lady returning to her home from the little market at the end of the street. In another alleyway a mother walks with her child hand in hand, as mothers do around the world. And homes are all along these alleys (we call them kiêts here in Huê.) If one lives in a home that does not have a business on the ground floor, and if one can afford it, one will have a high wall built around the house – and most likely have broken glass or even barbed wire along the top to ward off burglars. Can you guess what the ramp is for? (I’m not sure what the prize will be if you are correct, but leave your answer in the comment section.)
I wanted to walk over to the nearby lake, which has a lovely park surrounding it. But to do that, I had to brave the infamous Hà Nội traffic. This is the intersection of two streets, each of which is a four lane divided road carrying heavy traffic. As I have said many times, Hà Nội is not Huê – we do not have this kind of traffic - - - yet. There are no less than 22 four-wheeled vehicles in this photo.
But the risk of crossing that intersection was worth it. Merely walking through the gate brought me into a quiet, peaceful place by a small lake. (For those of you familiar with Hà Nội, it’s the Thành Công Lake.) I watched a class of budding photographers at work, spied on young lovers engrossed in themselves, and just gazed at the lake for awhile. I noticed this couple sitting on a bench, waved my camera to ask permission, and was given a smile. When I showed them the shots on the LCD screen of my camera – the gentleman smiled and said “Merci.” I was startled to hear French.
I mumbled something like “Ah, Francaise!”, then ambled away thinking about all the hardship their love has seen, yet they’re still holding hands.