A friend posted this fascinating LINK showing life in Hanoi in 1990. I found these particularly fascinating because it pre-dated my arrival in Vietnam by only four years.
I first arrived at Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport – the OLD one – in August 1994, just months after the U.S. had lifted the embargo against their former communist foe. We were moving to Haiphong near the coast, a three hour train ride to Hanoi, to teach English. (I’ll reminisce more on all of that later – I need to find all my photos!)
But we would frequently take the train to Hanoi to visit the big city and enjoy the “amenities” that simply didn’t exist in Haiphong. Those amenities included CHEESE and Coca-Cola and stuff like that. Yes, that will put things into perspective as to where Vietnam was in regards to development at that point.
We would bring our bicycles on the train – the train that used to go over the oldest French bridge and actually went to the main train station right in Hanoi proper – they stopped doing that around 1997. Anyways, we would bring our bikes on the train so we could easily cycle around Hanoi.
By 1994, the trams that you saw in the pictures were already gone, but the streets you see in 1990 looked about the same when we were cycling around. There were very few cars, lots of bicycles, and some motorbikes. By the end of the decade, Hanoi changed a lot, and now here in 2015, there are many parts of Hanoi which I would hardly even recognize. I’m sure I’d need to hang out in the Old Quarter and around Hoan Kiem Lake to feel at home.
We finally did move to Hanoi in January 1998 where we studied the Vietnamese language full-time for about a year and four months before moving to Thai Nguyen in the summer of 1999.
Our house in Hanoi was off of Thai Ha Street (again, where are my photos?) and by then there was already a mini-mart across the street from our house.
Oh, and I loved the little Banh Cuon breakfast show which was a short walk behind our house.
Those were good times. I really miss Hanoi and hope to visit again at some point. Hopefully this year.
And I promise I’ll find those photos!