|This morning we visited the Old Quarter of Hanoi. This was where all of the merchants lived and worked. Their houses behind their shops. In 1954, this all changed. These were the people that helped Ho Chi Minh and that the Chinese wanted to get rid of. These merchants fled to the south. This area had been considered middle class. When the buildings were abandoned squatters came in. Each family took a room in the house and that is how they still love today. One family in one room and there maybe a small kitchen area. There is a communal toilet and there is one spigot of running water.
Hope took us down a narrow alley behind the shop. Here we saw how the families lived. In thishousethere were 22 families. Small rooms and even smaller kitchens. But there were computers and large flat screen TVs! This is now a lower class area.
Hiep's grandfather was one of these merchants. His brothers me sisters went south but he stayed because he was the oldest son, Hiep's father stayed for the same reason. The grandfather lost everything, but they did survive the bad times.
The houses in the 16th century could not be taller the the Emperor's palace. So above the shop is only about 1/2 a story. In the 17th century the houses became 2 stories and in the 18th and 19th century a French influence was added to the front with balconies and scroll work.
This area is also called 36 Streets District because there are all kinds of goods sold here...there is shoe street, silk street, paper street, etc. there are,any restaurants her as well as the market.
The trip through the market show cased all kinds of living animals to eat, bugs, worms, eel, fish, jumping frogs and some things that we could've identify!
We went to the Temple of Literature founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucious. Here we were greeted by any children who were on class field trips. They greeted us with Hellos, waves and high fives! Poor Hiep couldn't compete!
It became the first university of Vietnam but was only for the upper class. There were several levels of testing. Only 1400 students graduated from here in 600 years! Now it is a place tocome and pay respect to the teachers. The stone tablets located here represent the PhD graduates.
Prior to the 16th century there was no written language of spoken Vietnamese. They used Chinese characters so most of the population was illiterate. In the 16th century a French Jesuit develops the Latin based alphabet used today. It is a complicated language. Some letters have 3 sounds and the accent or intonation of a word hS different meanings. I really had a hard time differentiating the changes.
Off to Da Nanf this afternoon!
We are at a beautiful resort on the South China Sea!