Hanoi, Day 2

Today was about art.  To really understand art in Vietnam, you can go back to the stone age but we went back to when the French ruled in Vietnam.  We booked a morning with Sophies Art Tour which I highly recommend.  We were able to learn about what we saw.  We started out the morning at Tang Tret coffee shop, where local artists hang out.

This is a sign that hangs in the shop.  Might be my new mantra.

It is down the street from the Museum of the Fine Arts.

Notice the influence from France?  This piece was done in 1935 by To Ngoc Van.  Many artists of that time went to France to study art and others came here to teach.

Lacquer art is a traditional technique still used in Vietnam today.

They love Uncle Ho, Ho Chi Minh.  It is clear to all of us that we should have never been fighting a war in Vietnam or at least figured it out sooner and pulled out.

After a full on history tour of the art at the museum we went over to Tan Dan.  Tan Dan was a painter and son of a Vietnamese playwright, Vu Dinh Long.  Their home is an open artists salon. Both the artist and his father was now gone but their wives/mother continue to live there and tell the story of their art.

This is the playwrights wife.

Our next stop was the GreenPalmGallery that sells commercial art.  What is of interest is that there are a handful of artists who have made a name for themselves.  Some of them are called the Gang of 5, who led the development of contemporary art in Vietnam.  Those artists are in their late 50’s now and there is a retrospective happening on their work in Hanoi beginning on Oct 21.  Commercial art is really what can be sold.  The artists that make work that people want are guided by their families and galleries to continue to make the same work again and again because in reality is pays the bills.  Few are being embraced to think and grow when it comes to their work.

I picked up this piece from Dinh Cong Dat.  We continued to see his work in other places around Hanoi.

Our next stop was Manzi which appears to be a coffee shop that also installs art work but above is a gallery that represents all the young up and coming artists in Vietnam.

Lunch was calling so we made our way over to Banh Mi 25 which is the best we have had.  They definitely get the new way of life…great branding.  It was so good that we had one pork sandwich, strolled around a bit and then returned to have another one with the pork pate.  If you only have one, go for the pork pate.

And life goes on around us.

Old school living is alive and well.

Before dinner, we had a tour of the bunkers in the Metropole Hotel.  Don’t run but seeing the actual bunker is of interest.

Dinner was definitely a better experience this evening.  We went to Madame Hien.   Pho is generally a breakfast dish but we went for it at dinner.  The food experience reminds me a little bit of when we went to Spain on our honeymoon.  We ate boquerones every day because they were on every menu and would discuss which one was better.  The food here is consistent at every place, although some better, some not.

Fun fact…50% of the people in Vietnam was under 30 years old.  We are seeing huge ranges of pricing.  The cabs, the food is all extremely inexpensive.  Two sandwiches and four beers can be a whopping $4.  Yet when it comes to tour guides, the prices are high.  Will be very interesting where this country is in another decade.