The cadre hat sat on the basic wooden table, crisp, severe and formal a sign of time passing away and a token of history’s experiment gone awry. Souvenirs of the city stir as kitsch gecko sounds and tube lights spasm. Hip young women cadres in crisp Khaki uniforms and a casual air about them attend to arrivals at Hanoi airport. Located outside the Royal city, the contemporary city of old Hanoi is the remnant of the Market Town of Thang Long; it is known as the Commoner’s City or “Kinh Thanh.” Old Hanoi is structured around the ceremonial lake of Hoan Kiem, with the Ho Tay (West Lake) and Song Hong (Red River) framing it to the north and east, the To Lich River to the west, and a number of lakes stretching south. For socialist cultures of the last century, the frugal city bears a special place in the Second World imaginary.