Tha Grand Tour IX: Dragon Ascending – Hanoi (河內), Vietnam

White out: Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword) shrouded in mist at dawn.

White out: Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword) shrouded in mist at dawn.

天报月密問來往/水色山光相送迎

“Heaven tells the Moon secrets and asks how it’s been; / Scenes of Lake and scenes of Mountain welcome each other.” - Couplet, Inscription at Ngoc Son (Jade Mountain) Temple

Hanoi is the 9th stop of my Grand Tour. And as of this point, I’m no longer posting my tour-stop articles in full because I’m hard at work editing everything I’m written so far, for something more.

I came to Hanoi ostensibly seeking out the vestiges of French colonialism.  I found evidence everywhere of a far older colonial power – China.  China ruled Northern Vietnam for a cool 1000 years, from the time of the Eastern Han Dynasty (sometime around 100 B.C.) to the end of the Tang Dynasty (900 A.D.).

That’s when Emperor Ly Thai To comes into the picture.  He, it was, who declared Vietnam’s Independence from the Northern Empire (Vietnam literally means “Empire of the Viets to the South).  Hanoi, called Thang Long () at the time – meaning “Dragon Ascending” – was his capital city.  And remained the capital for about 800 years, until the early 1800s when the Nguyen Emperors moved the capital to Hue.

Hanoi celebrated its 1000th birthday in 2010, and I was there to celebrate it with the Hanoi-ans.  This time, three years later, I returned to find a city still in transition.  It’s French colonial past had (almost) all been set aside. And it was taking the cue yet again from its ancien colonial master – the Middle Kingdom.

The Dragon ascends once again, but this time, it hopes, it will do so through economic growth, Chinese-style.  That doesn’t bode well.

The Hoan Kiem turtle, at Ngoc Son (玉山 - Jade Mountain) Temple.

The Hoan Kiem turtle, at Ngoc Son (玉山 - Jade Mountain) Temple.

Selling her wares in the foreground of an ancient Confucian temple.

Selling her wares in the foreground of an ancient Confucian temple.

Names of successful takers of the Imperial Examinations, Văn Miếu (文廟 - Temple of Literature).

Names of successful takers of the Imperial Examinations, Văn Miếu (文廟 - Temple of Literature).

Chinese-style Capitalism: a speeding bullet.

Chinese-style Capitalism: a speeding bullet.

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About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Cities & Regions, Culture & Lifestyle, Landmarks & History, Literature & Philosophy, Photography, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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