Before coming to Hanoi I’d read a lot about how Hanoi is inspired by Paris, due to the long French occupation. So before I arrived, I was hoping to see lots of people talking French, eating crepes and a building or two that looks like the Louvre.
Instead what I found was folk who talk Vietnamese and eat noodles, who want to learn English and quite a lot of flats built to no particular planning regulations. Paris it aint.
However, the French did leave something behind (other than bread, which is pretty good in this city). They left behind the Long Bien bridge.
The bridge, designed by Gustav Eiffel (yes that Eiffel) is better known these days as a symbol of the tenacity and strength of the people of Hanoi. It was targeted during the American war (yes that’s what it’s known as here obviously), but every time the Americans bombed it, the Vietnamese built it back with lightning speed, causing the minimum of disruption.
It’s a long bridge, as Elena and I can confirm. When we first drove our motorbike here in Hanoi, we took a wrong turn, which lead us over the bridge. It took us about 20 minutes to cross it, find the road back and get back on the road we were meant to be on!