What Hanoi in the past looks alike?
Old stories such as those that follow are simple events from a simpler time.
In the old days, when students said they were going to the lake, "pha xa" (roasted peanuts) near the old tower, these days it seems the smell still lingers a buttery, sweet smell mixed with flavoring
The students knew his trick. The man took a piece of paper and made a cone shape, then filled it with roasted peanuts. Every time he gave it to a customer, they would beg gore more. He rarely disappointed, dropping a few more peanuts into the cone. Unknown to most, though, he also opened the bottom of the cone and a few fell back into his container. No one was bothered; they were just happy to be eating his peanuts.
There was also another Chinese man by the lake, known for his fried pancakes. It was round, the size of your first, but very light, as inside was just a tiny bit of green been filling. His pancakes were crisp, and hi always managed to separate the taste of the inside and the taste of the outside.
At the time, the most famous ice-cream shop rapid the Hoan Kiem Lake was called zephyr, near Cau Fo Street. Other popular spots were the " Do Thanh" or"Mu Beo" (fat woman) shops, where you went for lemonade and orange juice, or the "con" shop, which was popular for dried beef. But the shrimp cakes sold at a nearby shop were very popular. The woman who owned the shop would give students some free vegetables. Those with money came for the cakes, while those a bit short on cash could still come and dip some vegetables in sauce.
For the older students, the Lake was a place to flirt. University guys would pay great attention to choosing their perfect partner, and many girls dreamed or dating a university guy.
Whenever they ventured out of the house back then, girls would wear an ao dai, the traditional long dress, replete with elegant embroidery. The number one rule for the guys was to never wear a worn pair of shoes. The reason was simple: in their shyness, the girls would always cast their eyes downward.
Writing letters was also common back then, but it could never be delivered to the girl's house. And handing it to her could result in a slap in the face. The best way was for the guy to slip it inside a book, and give the book to the girl of his dreams. If it was still there when she returned the book, his dreams had been dashed.
But if the letter was gone, he knew he had a chance. The next step was asking her to go to the movies. For the first few times she would bring a younger sister or a friend Finally, she would agree to go by herself. The two would sit together in the cinema, but there was never any touching.
Street lamps were a common place to meet back then. They would agree to meet, for example , at the fourth street lamp on a certain street. For privacy they could go to the city's only flower garden, called "Nha ken" (Clarinet House), which was also near Hoan Kiem Lake. In the middle of the flower garden, some soldiers would often practice their clarinet playing. The youth the soldiers, young students would share their fruit with the soldiers, together making a wonderful picture of life in old Hanoi.
For many Hanoians, such memories never fade.
"Where was the old road?
Shaded flower falling
Where was the old flower garden?
Sunny flower flying
Where was the old lamp post?
Who is waiting for whom?"
This article written by Lanh Nguyen from Vietnam Heritage Travel company