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RECOMMENDED PROPERTIES IN HANOI

HANOI

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and also its second largest city. It is a fascinating blend of East and West, with Chinese influence from centuries of dominance, and French je ne sais quoi from its colonial past.

The city down south may have his name, but only Hanoi has the man himself, entombed in distinctly Lenin-esque fashion at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Strict dress code is enforced inside and photos are allowed only from outside. The gleaming white Ho Chi Minh Museum and its gloriously ham-handed iconography is the perfect chaser to the solemnity of the mausoleum. The building, completed in 1990, is intended to evoke a white lotus. Some photos and old letters are on display on the second floor, but the main exhibition space is on the third floor. It includes cars crashing through walls to represent the chaos of postwar American capitalism, soldiers charging around with electric plugs, a cave hideout re-imagined as the inside of Ho Chi Minh's brain, and several other postmodern confections integrated with the main story of the man's life and his country's struggle. One of the more informative museums in Vietnam, and perhaps one of the oddest in the world.

One can always feel the diversity and liveliness of Hanoi at the Lenin Statue & Park. In the morning, there are low-energy aerobics class for elders and aerobics class for the young in the morning. During the day, one can enjoy the tranquility in the park since everybody is either at work or in school. In the afternoon, it becomes a playground for children and students as well as for soccer teams and badminton players.

Since the mid 1990s, Vietnamese cuisine has grown in quality and variation. Most famous remains "pho ga" (chicken noodle soup) or "pho bo"(beef noodle soup). There are various dishes including chicken, beef, fish and seafood, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants nowadays in Hanoi catering to everyone's taste. A local delicacy in the Hanoi area is dog meat (thit cho), which is especially popular in the winter. Another exotic regional taste is ca cuong, an extract from the belostomatidae, or giant water bug.

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