The park Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword) in the heart of old Hanoi is a beautiful public space and a center of public life in the city.
The building in the background is the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, part of the imperial structures that served as the capital of Dai Viet from the 11th to the 18th century. The building, very much in a Chinese style, is in the center of Hanoi. The boys in their bright tee shirts with a yellow star against a red background – the Vietnamese national flag – were part of a coed group of 20ish kids, I presume a university class on an outing. All of the boys were wearing the red tees. I rather liked the contrast: young people wearing the symbol of modern, socialist Vietnam against a traditional background representing the country’s imperial past.
The old imperial college (guozijian / 国子监) and Beijing’s Confucius temple are along this gorgeous tree-lined street. The site of occasional horn-honking traffic jams, the street is nonetheless reasonably peaceful most of the time. I had peace, quiet, and a truly beautiful, blue-sky Beijing day for my visit. The banner – almost impossible to translate into anything but stilted English – says something like “the sacred locale of the national academy, bringing virtue to the entire world”.