In the fall of 1010, King Ly Thai To (Ly Cong Uan) moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La. On the way, the king saw a vision of a golden dragon ascending from the Red river ( song Hong). The King decided to change Dai La to Thang Long (Ascending Dragon). Thang Long remained the capital city until the end of the Tran dynasty when in 1397, the capital city was moved to Thanh Hoa-Tay Do (Western Capital) and Thang Long became Dong Do (Eastern Capital).

Vietnam was invaded by China in 1407, and the city was renamed, Dong Quan. In 1428, after ten years of fighting, Le Loi liberated Vietnam and renamed the city Dong Kinh. In 1527, the city was renamed, Thang Long. In 1802 when King Gia Long (Nguyen Dynasty) moved the capital city to Hue, the name Thang Long remained but, Long no longer means dragon, Long, in this case, means prosperity. Ha Noi, was the name given to the city by King Minh Mang in 1831. Ha means river and Noi means within - Ha Noi means within the river.

Hanoi Students

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.

Pico Iyer

For many of us that grew up during the Vietnamese War, Hanoi stood for the enemy or those that we thought stood alongside them such as "Hanoi Jane" (Fonda). Today thankfully those days are in the past. Except for the odd war souvenir you can still find in the marketplace you would be hard-pressed to know there had even been a war between the United States and Vietnam as the local citizens hold us no animosity. In the minds of the Vietnamese, the war had been a historical war of independence fought over 30 years with the French and then Americans. It was a struggle that has been replaced by a new struggle, that of developing economic prosperity, one where the United States was now an ally.

When visiting Hanoi, you can see the mad rush for modernity, even in the old town there is a feeling of entrepreneurship that has previously swept other nations of Asia as it now sweeps over Vietnam. I was told that the reason why a street-facing property was so highly valued was due to the possibility to create a storefront business on the bottom floor. I also learned that the reason house was often not decorated on the side was due to the distinct possibility that a neighbor would construct their house alongside and that any decoration was thus wasted.