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CNN International: CNNGo

Aired May 11, 2011 - 13:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: CNNGO. Sponsored by Korean Air.


TRI MINH, ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN: When you come to Hanoi or in Vietnam in the first place, you will see a lot of mainstream activities, but in fact, there's a lot of underneath, and you need to spend time to be able to know it, for example.

This is Club Rooftop, one of the newest club bars where all the young and trendy -- trendiest people go here.

OK, let's go in.

The crowd here are mostly rich people. They're all newly rich people, they come here to be trendy. And spend a lot of money.

When you come here in the evening, you have a chance to look over the new Hanoi. When I was younger, like a teenager, I had a lot of possibilities of doing things without even thinking of money. But now, when you come to this kind of place, you say, "Wow. I'm going to spend a lot of money." And that's why it let's out a lot of possibilities for some other people.

But as a developing country, I think this is a fact that we have to discover this, and I think we're looking forward. That's the most important.

OK, now, I take you to a completely different place. This is very -- let's say very underground. This is rock club organized by one of the former rockers.

In this rock club, there's a lot of rock clubbers, also musicians, and some of them are very, very good musicians. They play the old commercial songs, cover songs, and people just come here to relax.

I feel very fortunate to be here at the very moment where the changes happen, and I'm so lucky that I'm here.

Maybe in 10, 15 years, we will be much more developed. We will be much more open. We have a -- we'll have a chance to express ourselves much more. But now, we have to work for it.

TRAN HANH AN, OWNER, HIDDEN HANOI: We are now on Hang Gai Street, it's a main street of the Old Quarter of Hanoi. This street is a very busy street for the travelers, for the tourists. But in Hanoi, not many tourists know this place. It's like really special and it's really unique for me.

First you see the shop, and then there's a larger thing that's hiding behind the shops that you never know what's inside. OK, so, please follow me.

The houses in the Old Quarter are very narrow and deep, so that's why the courtyard in the middle of houses is very important.

This is not just a coffee shop, but people live here, and you come to the coffee shop, but also you come to somebody's home, as well.

OK, let's go up to the stairs.

So, from very small little lane, opens something really beautiful.

This is a special dish of this place. It's coffee, that's what it's called, coffee with egg, and they use the yolk and they whip the yolk and make it a very thick Vietnamese coffee. It's really yummy.

A lot of people come to Hanoi. They know where's Hoan Kiem Lake is. And then they walk around the Hoan Kiem Lake, because Hoan Kiem Lake is the center of Hanoi. But not many people know this place and go to little lane and come inside here and soak in the view like this.

And you only need to just spend 20,000 Dong, that's $1 for coffee, and you can have a look at the millionaire view, like this.

We are now on Hoan Kiem (ph) Street, it's in the cerulean (ph) area, that's a very, very old area of Hanoi. It's not too far from the center. The reason why I brought you here, because this is -- this area is really unique and really kind of like typical living quarter of Hanoi.

Down. He's selling the egg with a baby duck inside. And I like it. It is fun early in the morning for breakfast.

This one's fresh mint and ginger, and put some salt in. And then with some garlic with rice vinegar and some chile, if you like.

OK, and the egg is like -- it has the leg, like it's really a baby duck.

The people living around this area, there's not much changing. It's only getting more crowded, and the lane is getting smaller with small houses. And busier.

Hanoi is lively and a lot of energy and very charming.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are we going, now?

BENJAMIN RASCALOU, CHEF/OWNER, LA BADIANE: We're going to La Badiane Restaurant, Vietnamese restaurant. They make some traditional and all kinds of food you can find in Vietnam, from the center, from the south, from the north. Everything. You will see a very different one.

I can eat everything, but you really need to see.

Come on in. What we will do, we will find something for us. You have many bars and many different things. We will look around and we will see what we can have, something nice, what I like.

Now, I will show you, like a ravioli. Vietnamese typical ravioli. It's very nice. I will ask them to do it for you.


RASCALOU: You have different kinds. You have one kind with mushroom, black mushroom. And here, we have the shrimp. Every time I eat with shrimp, I prefer, it's nice.

You see, it's very fine. I don't know how they do it. And what they need to buy, they buy in the morning and we eat for lunch. After, they come back to the market in afternoon, they buy, and they eat for dinner.

Every day, we need to go two times to the market to find what we will have.

We have come to this table, here. And you take a salad, and different dishes here, we put here, and you have some cucumber and some caranbul (ph). I don't like the carnabul, and I prefer to show you how I like.

You take a small piece of rice, and then you put one piece of meat, and you just make like this.

And it's OK.

Good. This inside, you have all of the rice, the food, the cucumber, and some very flash -- fine flavor of herbs.

Beer. It's good, yes? It's very nice, good for lunch of many, many Vietnamese or foreigners. Everyone likes to eat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it the best Vietnamese lunch you can have?

RASCALOU: In my way, yes.

The Vietnamese like to keep what they like. And when you have food 100 years ago, you still have food today.

I remember my team have some people, I try to give them something foreign to eat, but they don't really like -- like, if I show you the fat, people don't really like.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many people have tried the food in your restaurant?

RASCALOU: One, ten times. Good, it's good. What we do is good. It's not very good, it's not high quality, it's not the best in the world, but when we give something to the customer, this is good.

TRAN PHUONG MAI, OWNER, MAI GALLERY: We opened Mai Gallery in 1993 in my house, and we are one of the first private galleries in Hanoi.

TRAN (through translator): Let me introduce you to the works of Phan Thu Tang, a very young painter. Her paintings are now very popular because their colors are very bright.

DUONG TRONG, POET (through translator): This is a new painting by Dang Xuan Hoa, a painter from "Gang of Five."

TRAN (through translator): to my right are the works of Nguyen Bao Ha's, which are often made from color palettes.

DUONG (through translator): "The Gang of Five" were the first ones to make a breakthrough so the world knew about Vietnamese art.

TRAN (through translator): We are going to Ha Tri Hieu's studio. He is one of the "Gang of Five." We are on Kham Thien Street.

TRAN (in English): Watch your head.

HA TRI HIEU, ARTIST (through translator): Right now, I'm painting "Two Friends." I started this painting four days ago.

This is Pham Quang Vinh, Hong Viet Dung. Tran Luong, Dang Xuan Hoa, and me.

The "Gang of Five."

When we were in university, we would get together and hold exhibitions each month. After five or six years, there were only five of us left. We often talked about art and decided to form a group. Fortunately, we got a lot of attention from popular poets and art critics in Vietnam.

The opening policy in the 1980s called "Doi Moi" influenced the art world, especially me. Painters had better economic conditions as well as opportunities to show their culture to the outside world. They could travel to foreign countries to visit museums, galleries, and meet foreign artists.

This was a very good opportunity for Vietnamese artists. But I did not think we would become such a popular and well-recognized group.


JAMES DURSTON, HOST: Hanoi from a motorbike. It's a pretty crazy, unusual experience. Actually, it's kind of thrilling, it's kind of exciting. And I don't think this is the worst of the traffic, so we're getting off lightly.

One of the great senses you get here is of real kind of life. It's a bit like India in that Hanoi lives in its streets. There's everything to look at all the time in these places, they're so colorful, so energetic. And I think being on a scooter and riding through the town, really, you get a sense of that energy and that Vietnamese life.

We're heading off to this Long Bien Bridge. It's not a place that many people go to, apparently, but we've heard about it. It's a key priority target during the Vietnam War, apparently, but it did pretty well at keeping itself open. Or at least, the Vietnamese did a good job of keeping it open despite repeated bombardments.

And today, I think about 15,000 people go across it every day. Cars aren't allowed, but scooters and trains cross this thing every day. And as we cross it, you're going to sense what it was like, I guess, back in the day when it was used by old Vietnamese in the early 1900s.

When this was first built, it was one of the longest bridges in the world. And I think at the time, when it was not being destroyed by American bombs, it was about two and a half kilometers long, making it the longest in Asia.

At the time of construction, the Red River was considered uncrossable, actually. When people first floated plans or suggested plans to build a bridge across it, they were told you couldn't do it.

There was a really important route of transport and supply for Hanoi, linking it to nearby port and four big railways came and met together at this bridge, as well. Hence such an important strategic military target.

It were these parts that would've been destroyed first, probably, by the first fighters that came in. And it's rebuilding these that the Vietnamese actually used US prisoners of war to ensure that while it was being repaired, it wasn't bombed again.

People could probably skip this part of the tour, yes.

But this is what people don't see often, so, hell. Why not?

It's built by the same guy that built the Eiffel Tower, apparently. Or at least his architectural firm. As you can see, the Eiffel Tower influence is very heavy in all of the architecture, particularly the bits that are still standing.

A lot of this has been rebuilt since it was destroyed, but if you take a walk across it, those big bits that are standing are still more than 100 years old, and you can really see that Eiffel influence in the engineering.

I mean, it's well-known. You can do a search and it's kind of in a few of the tour guides, but it doesn't seem to be a major tourist attraction. It's still a functioning bridge is its main point of use is to get people across the river. But you can see, it looks awesome. So, yes, more people to come and have a look. MY LINH, SINGER: These are 50,000 Dong a bunch. But I ask her, how many flowers in the bunch. They say, 29 and a half. I say -- I ask, "Why half?" This is quite funny.

The life here is simple. They say everything on the street.

This street is called Bai Hang. And a small street, and it's always crowded like this until 5:00 in the morning until late at night. And you can find almost all things here. Even it's small, but it's a lot of cafes, a lot of restaurants for local people.

This is mushroom, that's chicken and noodles. And chicken water, that's soup.


MY: Wow. Almost my age. 30 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's her secret?


MY: Oh, she's -- she will -- she wants to keep that.

This is called wumac (ph) noodle. It's a common breakfast for Hanoi people.


MY: I read in the newspaper a lot of famous singers in other countries, they don't have their privacy and it's difficult for their family. But we don't have that here. And it's kind of peace, here. I like that peaceful, here.

I think Hanoi is still a little bit conservative compared to other cities. We don't accept a lot -- change a lot. I think that of heart, that I do and I don't like of Hanoi.

A long time ago, when Vietnam still banned by the world trade, it was a very difficult time for us. We didn't have enough food to eat. That's why I think it's influence to our correct.

My music is similar to western music, but we mix our treasures our own way, and thinking and lyrics. So it's called pop in Hanoi.


RASCALOU: It's a very nice country to share, to learn. And change a little bit of who we are and what we can do.

ANNOUNCER: Next month, we head to Beijing. Show us the hidden side of the Chinese capital, head to