Morning exercises at Hanoi's Hoan Kiem lake.
Hanoi – Been There

Vietnam’s live and let live charm

Photo by Bruno Morandi

Hanoi – Been There Vietnam’s live and let live charm

It’s my last morning in Hanoi, so I go for my usual run round Hoan Kiem lake, ending with a short detour past the old French Cathedral.

Gráinne Ryder
Gráinne Ryder Travel Writer

There is an early morning scene here that I love. A group of singers are practising unrecognizable hymns led by a Vietnamese nun in full black habit playing a portable organ. On one side of a shrine, some women do exer-salsa to a blaring Guantanamera backbeat, while others nearby stand silently praying to a candle-lit god of a post-Communist Confucius/Buddhist persuasion.

Others practise the soothing motions of tai chi. Some sit on benches, palms upward, eyes closed, meditating. Still others just swing arms or legs, oblivious to the noise of traffic clogging the asphalt arteries around this lake at the city's heart.

To my western eyes, it’s all a tribute to the power of not just mere tolerance but actually living in harmony in a crowded space.

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Schoolchildren playing soccer in front Saint Joseph's Cathedral . Hanoi . North Vietnam

Schoolchildren playing soccer in front of Saint Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi. Photo by Jordi Cami / Alamy

Jordi Cami

Jordi Cami

Agency
Alamy

Schoolchildren playing soccer in front of Saint Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi.

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