|Ta Hien Street is frequented by foreigners (Photo: thanhniennews.com)
Ta Hien street in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter is just two hundred meters long, but it has everything: restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops.
There seems to be no sidewalk. That’s because of all the customers sitting on tiny stools around small tables in front of every house, drinking, chatting, and enjoying the boisterous street atmosphere.
The ground floor of every house here is used for some kind of business, and the upper floors are the living quarters of local families. Two years ago many streets of the Old Quarter were officially declared pedestrian-only streets during certain hours, giving the area a new look and bringing big changes to the lives of local residents. Follow me into this house to find out what life is like behind the scenes.
We’re at “Leu café” owned by Ms. Hoang Thi Hanh. It’s a small, cozy shop with lanterns and a small balcony dotted with pots of flowers.
How long have you had this shop, and how has business been since the advent of pedestrian streets?
“This used to be a small café, just on the ground floor, and most of the customers were local people. But since the pedestrian streets started, the area has attracted more tourists, particularly foreign tourists. So I expanded the café another 2 floors. My family now lives just on the top floor to make more room for business,” Hanh said.
It’s amazing on this busy street to find such a quiet corner. This is a shop that restores old fans. This shop was opened more than 30 years ago and is a favorite place for foreign tourists visiting the Old Quarter.
The shop has attracted even more visitors since the pedestrian streets opened. Nguyen Van Ngoc, a repairman who works in the shop, says some old bronze fans being repaired here are worth between 1.9 thousand and 3.8 thousand USD. “People usually learn about the shop on the internet before they come here. Since the walking streets were opened, more and more foreigners have been coming to visit,” Ngoc said.
Hanoi’s walking streets create great opportunities for local businesses and offer new recreation options for young people. They are also transforming the lives of many people who have lived here for decades. “I’ve lived here since I was born in 1954. This street is noisy at night now that it has become a walking street. I’m old, so sometimes I feel uncomfortable. But I’ll get used to it eventually. My life is tied up with the Old Quarter, so I don’t want to move to any other place,” Nguyen Van Thuy, who lives in Hang Buom street, said.