Tet is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam. It is the Vietnamese New Year marking the arrival of spring based on the Lunar calendar. It takes place from the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day. I was lucky to be in Hanoi during Tet in 2009 and the markets and shops and streets were simply heaving with people buying goods.
On the night of January 25th, I walked down to the Hoan Kiem Lake where masses of people were gathering for celebrations and fireworks. I walked around and observed people setting off paper lanterns into the night sky (a few of them getting stuck in trees!). I've included some video of them on my Hanoi page. The lake is lit up at night with coloured lights and lasers plus little tiny flecks of fire in the sky made from hundreds of paper lanterns. The fireworks kicked off at midnight and lasted for about 15-20 minutes and then I headed back to my hotel past people leaving food and drink offering on the streets outside their homes.
Hanoi is home to plenty of street vendors, mostly women, who walk around the narrow streets of the city with either a shoulder pole attached to two baskets, a bicycle, a trolley or some other type of pushing machine. They sell fruit and vegetables and other food products, flowers, costumes, plastic toys, you name it. I went to the Women's Museum where, upstairs, they had an interesting exhibition about them with lots of photos along with real case accounts from the women themselves describing all aspects of their lives and job. As you'd expect, they don't earn much in the way of money and what they do earn, goes back to support their families in villages and they live in pretty horrid conditions. So spare a thought for them, the next time you see one on the streets.
In Hanoi, I came across what is in my photo, and never knew what they were!
Then, one day, on a tour to the Silk Village, the "Rock Sulpture" in the photo was there, so I asked the guide about it.
He said that a lot of companies buy them to put in their Office gardens.
I also saw a lot of sculptures made out of wood stumps.
- Arts and Culture
Plenty of places to get that haircut, for men only? not sure.
A Barber jokenly asked me if I wanted a hair cut, well, I think it was said as a joke. I never did see a woman getting her hair cut at one of the sidwalk Barbers!
Barbers will set up their "shop" in lines along the sidewalk each morning.
A cut from one of these "street salons" is about 10,000 dong
- Budget Travel
On your wanders around Hanoi, you will come across many street vendors, selling all kinds of goods.
Sometimes, the fruit vendor, may let you try a piece of fruit.
If you decide to buy, remember to bargain, as the price will be higher than norm, because you are a tourist.
Sometimes, before you know it, you will have a fruit carrying basket plonked on your shoulders, with them wanting to take a photo of you, OF COURSE, FOR MONEY!
It all happens very quick.
Whilst on my City Tour of Hanoi, we were at the Temple of Literature when we spotted a professional photo shoot being done. There was quite a crowd of people watching the proceedings.
Lucky we were on tour, and had a guide with us, as he told us what was going on, otherwise I would have never known.
The couple in the photo, as you can see, were beautifully made up and dressed, were have shoots taken before their upcoming wedding day.
He said that before the wedding day, couples usually arrange a photo shoot, during which the bride and groom will wear their wedding garments and a range of rented outfits.
ALSO.........Vietnamese brides usually wear two wedding gowns on their wedding day - a traditional red ao dai (the traditional Vietnamese tunic-dress) for the main ceremony in front of the family altar and, later in the day, a white Western-style wedding dress at the wedding party for friends and relatives.
I think I was lucky to see the lovely couple and to find out the information!
Coffee in Vietnam is VERY STRONG, and served differently to Western countries. The photo shows how sometimes it is served to you.
If you happen to get your cup of Coffee this way, and you do not like strong Coffee, then ask for a cup of hot water, they will oblige with that, at least it made the coffee more drinkable!
- Food and Dining
DOG MEAT IN HANOI
Dog meat is still eaten in Vietnam.
Our guide told us , that we would never have dog meat served to us, as it is classed as a luxury.
Certain breeds of dogs are raised on farms and slaughtered for their meat.
The raising and consumption of dog meat has been linked to the transmission of rabies to humans.
On my walking around Hanoi, I came across a street in which every shop was selling "DOG"
ROW BOATS....AND THE ROWER!
On a visit to Tam Coc, take a look how some of the ladies row their boats.
Would you believe, that they ROW WITH THEIR FEET.
Actually, the photographer who took my photo, rowed alongside our rowboat, paddling with her feet, and taking the photo at the same time!
- Sailing and Boating
SNAKE & SCORPION WINE
In Vietnam, you will see a lot of Snake Or Scorpion wine for sale at Tourist shops. These can be bought in all size bottles, and are very attractive to buy for a 'DIFFERENT SOUVENIR'
The small bottles only cost $1 - $2.
Just be aware of what you can bring back into your home country.
You may not be allowed to take it home, and end up losing it at customs!
At least it is cheap, so declare, and see what happens, it makes a good talking point!
When walking the Old Quarter of Hanoi, I could hear some Birds singing. There, above the street stall, was a Bird in a Cage. From then on, I started to look up and take note, I saw quite a few more, great pets for people who live in units.
So, you are in Vietnam with your girfriend, and you want to impress her!
Why not buy her a gift like the Vietnamese do!
Pictured, is what my Cyclo Driver told me, what Boyfriends buy and give to their Vietnamese girlfriends.
I actually did see a young man on a Motorbike, with a woman on the back, and she was holding one of these.
Is it chocolates, I don't know, just a different gift idea.
On your travels around Vietnam, you are sure to see the large Wreaths for sale, the same as the ones in my photo. Some places they vary in colour a little.
I did see a couople of Funerals, and at a stop in a country town, heard the music. I was on tour, and we all wondered what it was, so our guide filled us in on Funerals in Vietnam.
WE WERE TOLD, .....Vietnamese attach great importance to care for their parents in their old age and to mourn them in death, and that they mourn the dead parent for 3 years. Sometimes, mourning even begins beforehand!
At this time, the eldest child suggests a name for the dying person for it is considered unfortunate to continue the same name used in life after the relative has died.
According to ritual, when the parent has died, the children do not, as yet, accept the idea of death.
They place a chopstick between the teeth of the deceased and place the body on a mat on the floor in an effort to "bring it back to life".
The next rite in this tradition is for the eldest son or daughter to take a shirt the deceased has worn in life and to wave it in the air and call upon the soul of the dead to return to the body.
After this rite has been completed, the descendants then perform the ceremonial cleansing of the body.
The corpse is bathed, hair is combed and nails clipped.
Money, gold and rice are placed in the mouth of the dead to indicate that the deceased has left this world without want or hunger.
The corpse is then wrapped in white cloth and placed in a coffin and members of the family form a honor guard around the clock until a propitious time for burial is selected.
AND.......I also had a motorbike whizz past my Taxi, it had a Coffin stapped to the back, they sure were getting a fast ride!!
- Arts and Culture
The Bicycle Is Still a Transport Option, for Now
If Hanoi is like the other rising Asian cities of Taipei and Beijing, the bicycle as a transportation mode is fading fast. While I saw plenty of bicycles in the steets, the predominant conveyance was the motor scooter, and the older people sticking with their bicycles clearly seemed out of place -- literally being passed by the new era.
- Arts and Culture
Do you feel coco loco? Then go to the dam between West Lake and Truc Bach Lake. It is here where numerous street vendors offer fresh coconut juice to drink directly from the fruit. Sitting on small blue plastic chairs, you'll get your coconut, have its top cut off and put a straw in. Finished.
- Food and Dining
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