Monday, July 21, 2008
Hanoi, glorious Hanoi. A chance to reminisce. A throwback. Or would it have changed beyond all recognition? Flying in for the first time since the mid-1990s there was a part of me that expected me to recount countless tales of “Well, of course it was much nicer back then …” or “Globalisation has ruined this city.” It hadn’t. Far from it. Hanoi still is the place I remember. Wonderful dilapidated French buildings, a colonial whiff among the teeming streets, and the calming influence of the lake. Sure there are more cars now, less conical hats, Coke has replaced Ho Chi Minh as the premier brand, and some modernisation pervades the skyline, but the character of Vietnam’s capital is still so exotic, cultured and colourful. My murmurs of “well in my day …” were muted.