Some of my friends from Xian always admonished me about not visiting the fames terracotta warriors. Splendid they may be, but such buildings fail to rouse my interest much. I spent most of time in the market that grew around the old muslim quarter - for I am a fan of spaces that grow up organically.
I was lucky enough to visit the local art space called Zone 9 in Hanoi just before the area was closed down. The back story is that there were these factory buildings that were lying dormant. Some local artists moved in and set up their studios. Soon there were cafes and bars. Soon the students started to hang out. The zone turned into a vibrant night spot. The prime location attracted developers and it was bought out. The new owners want to dismantle the units and build anew. I hope the artists find a new place to transplant this space.
I travel to Vietnam couple of times a year but I am coming back to Hanoi after 12 years. It is nice to be back, and I can finally appreciate the different characteristics of the people here. It is often said that the pace of life in Hanoi is slower compared to the south. I agree with this. I found that I was able to make more random friends in Hanoi as they had more time to talk to strangers.
Perhaps the visit was also made special because my guide was PHM from Hanoi Grapevine. She is so passionate about the art scene in Hanoi and had many interesting anecdotes.
Some reading about Zone 9
(Thanks to PHM from Hanoi Grapevine for showing me this place)
Some pictures from Zone 9. You can see the bars, the artists at work and the shops. Hanoi Grapevine is a good site to learn about the events happening in the city.