Tales of Asia IV – Saigon (HCMC) & Hanoi, 8 Nov, Sunday, 2 – 3 pm, Marine Parade Public Library

Rue Catinat in the 1930s, with the Hotel Continental at right.

Rue Catinat in the 1930s, with the Hotel Continental at right.

Part IV of Tales of Asia features the cities of Saigon (today’s Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi, capitals of French Indochina in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the most dynamic cities in today’s Vietnam.

Join me as we travel back in time to:

  • Take a guided tour through the French colonial architecture of Old Town Saigon, uncovering what remains today from the French era, what remains unchanged and what has changed drastically.
  • Explore la Rue Catinat in Saigon – the Orchard Road and Champs Élysées of the 1900s – 1950s, with its fashionable cafés, boutiques and specialty delicatessen. Peer into the lives of the French in Saigon.
  • Learn of how the French brought their Culture and Civilisation Francaise to Hanoi, only to come up against a far older and more enduring influence – that of the Chinese.  [Spoiler: I reveal the strong link between quốc ngữ - 國語 - and Chinese Han characters.]
  • Explore the Sino-Vietnamese heritage of Old Town Hanoi (河內), including Hoan Kiem Lake (湖還劍) the former Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, the Temple of Literature (文廟), and the 36 Streets (三十六行).
  • Take a pleasant wander through the French quarter of Hanoi, ending off at la Terrasse of the splendid Hôtel Métropole.

…amongst other things.

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