Hanoi's Old Quarter
About a thousand years ago, 36 Hanoi guilds organized their
version of a shopping mall, with each guild selling its own
product on a specialized street.  This system generally  
survives in Hanoi's Old Quarter, also known as the 36 streets.
The shop above is on Paper Street.  Christmas decorations
were quite prevalent among the inventories on Paper Street.
Shops selling Buddhist religious products have
their own area in the Old Quarter as well.
Counterfeit Street offers fake Vietnamese and
American currency to be burned as part of
Buddhist ceremonies.  An alternative to incense,
which also has its own street.
The arrival of American Express suggests that
the ancient system is under stress.  Some fast
food outlets have already infiltrated the Old
Quarter, and globalization is poised for the kill.
From the same era is this famous miniature shrine, the
One Pillar Pagoda, built by a Vietnamese Emperor.  
Hanoi's older areas make it an interesting city to explore,
full of narrow streets running at odd angles.
As in Saigon, a pedestrian must constantly look out for the
motor scooters, which always claim the right of way.  I
needed a vacation from traffic hazards, and my final
destination of Laos was the perfect answer.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the
Intrepid Berkeley Explorer's free video of this trip by clicking
Ho Asked Me to Go