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Hanoi of the Thirty Six Streets and Guilds

 

A number of my foreigners said “Should Hanoi part with those Old quarters one day , it would become a nonetity”
They preferred Hanoi to Saigon because of the former’s millennial historu.Claude Palozzoli, for one, was attracted by the alleys in the old city: “ No concrete at all. Only small, pleasant-looking houses standing close together, glued together,old ,stunted, dissimilar: narrow,sharp,squat,fat,rheumy and overloaded with embelishments, balconies, terraced gardens,porches,balustrades and colonnades,indescribable but delicious.The author , while wandering along those alleys, discovered”the soulof the little people,sensitive and warm,which will transfigure even the poorest”.
Through all the ups and downs of history the soul of the city of Thang Long(Rising Dragon) has remained with those old quarters with their artisan workshops and commercial stores.
The old city looks very much like a mulberry leaf palaced at the northern end of that patch of blue which is Ho Hoan Kiem(Lake of the restored Sword).The stall of the leaf is represented by the main artery running from Silk Street toĐ?ng Xuân Street.From either side of the stalk spread a web of small streets leading towards the dyke on the red River to the right and the ancient citadel to the left.A tourist would have tospend several days getting his bearings in this labyrinth,and I’ve often jokingly challenged my foreign friends-those “silkworms hungry for exoticism”-to “try and nibble at that Hanoian mulberry leaf.”
The “City of Thirty-Six Streets and Guilds” took shape in the 15th century with evocative place names like Silk Street,Noodle Street,Hemp Street,Cotton Street,Sail Street,Coffin Street,Mat Street,Bowl Street,Medicinal Herb Street,Votive Offering Street,Grilled Fish Street,etc.There life boils over onto the pavement. But rare are those streets which still retain some vestige of their former activities On the other hand a new sort of “Thirty-Six Streets and Guilds” has emerged in the context of the market economy.

- Eateries: stewed chicken(Cam Chi and Ky Dong),chicken feet (Hang Dau),beer (Nguyen Du and Ham Long streets,pastry(Hang Bong Nhuom),dog meat(Nghi Tam), Confectionery and cigarettes(Hng Buom),Sino-Vietnamese foods(Ta Hien)
- Consumer goods :bicycles (Ba Trieu),motorbikes (Phung Hung),motorbike parts (Pho Hue),building materials (Cat Linh),scrap iron (Đę La Thŕnh),western medicines(Van Mieu,Lę Duan),sandals (Hang Dau),dry goods(Phung Khac Khoan)
toys (Luong Van Can),carpets(Ngo Van So),artificial flowers,chinaware and Chinese-made furniture(Ham Long),garments (Kham Thien, Hang Dao),foam rubber pillows and mattresses(Hang Đieu),electric appliances(Le Duan),backpacks and briefcases (Dinh Tien Hoang).
- Services: pavement massage (Nguyen Thai Hoc,near Cua Nam),women’s wear(Luong Van Can), currency exchange(Dinh Le),labour (Giang Vo),motorbike wash(Tran Phu),car rental(Quang Trung, Trang Thi),barbers(Quang Trung).

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