Salted or sugared dry fruits - A Hanoi specialty
Ô mai” has always been recognized as a famous Vietnamese snack. It is favored by a lot of Vietnamese people, especially women. It is a perfect combination of the sour taste of apricot, the saltiness of sour, the spicy of ginger and the natural sweetness of liquorices. “Ô mai” is always used during Tết Holiday (aka Lunar New Year) and is a favorite gift for Vietabroaders. “Ô mai” has a lot of flavors to serve your preference. My favorite is strawberry and dracontomelon. Actually, I have just received a package from my mom which included 2 boxes of “Ô mai”. That really made my day!!
Maybe, no where in the world can find the special nosh more delicious than in Capital city of Hanoi, Vietnam with “O mai”. For the past years, “o mai”, salted or sugared dry fruits, was a favorite not particularly with Hanoian. Time is passing through and this speciality is now becoming a popular snack and an expected gift for all Vietnamese people, Vietnamese oversea also.
The oldest and most famous type of “Ô mai” ever known may be apricots, following dracontomelum, star, tamarind, kumquat, pineaple, canari, lemon, mango. As increasing demand and different taste of customer, o mai makers are now adding more fruits from all regions to adapt from traditional recipe.
The variation of flavor of O mai from sour, hot, salted, to sweet has enchanted many visitors to Hanoi. Nowadays, coming to Hanoi, after a visit to Hanoi Old Quarter, you should get the Hàng Đường (Hang Duong) or Hang Ngang, Pho Hue where the most delicious and wonderful ô mai are sold. Interestingly, at these shop, you can feel free to tast all kind of o mai before paying for the most favorite. Ô mai is a delicious affordable gift for your friends each time you came to Hanoi.
- Arts and Culture
Coffee in Hanoi
Coffee is not strange in any city in the world. However Hanoi coffee is unique, it becomes the culture of Hanoian or any people who like to try coffee in Hanoi.Coffee was introduced into Vietnam by French colonists in the late 19th century. Vietnam quickly became a strong exporter of coffee with many plantations in the central highlands. The beverage was adopted with regional variations. Because of limitations on the availability of fresh milk, the French and Vietnamese began to use sweetened condensed milk with a dark roast coffee. Today, Hanoians like to drink coffee in the morning time. In fact, sitting on small chair in pavement with a glass of coffee become the popular image of Hanoian.Besides a cup of coffee with sweet milk or a spoonful of sugar, Hanoians creates new ways to enjoy coffee in Hanoi that are egg coffee and yogurt coffee. The egg coffee is made with normal black Vietnamese coffee and egg yolk with milk and sugar. It states a bit like tiramisu on the top, very creamy and rich.
Tall narrow houses
Many houses in Hanoi are built very tall, but also very narrow. It used to be that taxes were paid by the width of the frontage of the house, and this led to the long and thin “tube” houses of Hanoi.
Today, the land in Hanoi is so expensive that new houses are still built tall and narrow. Amazing to see some of the constructions – many houses rises 7 or 8 floors.
In Hanoi (and Vietnam in general) it is a tradition to have wedding photos taken at various famous places around town. Therefore, it is very common to see a wedding couple outside temples, museums and so on.
You always get a big smile and a thank you in return when you congrat them.
- Arts and Culture
Cultural Dos & Don'ts in Vietnam
-When you visit someone's house, say "hello" to the oldest person first and then the second oldest and on... Do the same when you leave.
-Dress modestly when you visit pagodas or temples.
-Left your shoes outside someone's house before entering .
-When you give something to people who is older than you, give it with both hands.
-Ask for permission when you want to take someone's photo. If they don't want you to, they will become angry.
-Take your shoes off at the entrance of the places of worship. We Vietnamese believe that if you go into pagodas with your shoes on, you will have bad luck in your next life after you pass away.
-Dress well with colorful clothes when in the wedding or in Tet holiday.
-Sit with your feet (or your back) pointing towards a family altar.
-Make noise at noon (from 12pm to 3pm) because Vietnamese usually take a nap at that time.
-Show your feelings in front of people (who is not closed to you) when you're sad or in pain or something like that because that's the sign of weekness and impoliteness, sometimes. You should keep your face normal.
-Touch people's head.
-Dress clothes with bright colors when in the funerals.
WEAR A PARTICLE MASK AS LOCALS DO!!
When in Hanoi..Do as the locals do!! Wear a face mask to avoid the bad pollution from traffic fumes..Now when Im ever anywhere in a really bad polluted city as they are here in vietnam I always carry with me and wear a particle face mask...The risks are worse for people with pulmonary problems as asthma and bronchitis as the pollution can cause a bad Asthma attack that can have disasterous consequences.
These masks can be purchased from supermarkets, street vendors and market places..Due to the fact that there are literally millions and millions of motorcycles in Vietnam the traffic pollution is horrendous.Take care and wear a mask...When in Rome.!!!
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
US Dollars vs VND
Having both US Dollars and local currency, The Dong will not be a problem.
I used Us Dollars to pay for things like hotels, resturants, travel etc... and kept the local currency for small things. Never had any problems.
- Budget Travel
Yes, No, Yes, No
Rule No 1: When a Vietnamese say Yes. Dont take it as YES.
Dont put out a question like " You dont have it for sales,do you?"
Most of people will say YES - which actually mean You are right, i dont have it for sales!
Or they will say NO - which means NO, you are not right, WE HAVE IT FOR SALES!!
Ok, it can be very confusing..... So be patient and repeat your question. It sounds silly, but you better be sure, do not give up.
Again, when someone say Yes to everything you said. It does not mean Yes, he/she may not understand but still saying yes. It's dangerous and you may end up having arguments if you are buying something from them.
Rule No 2: When you say something, people keep smiling and nodding. it may means THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND.
Vietnamese will not usually say " I dont understand". So make sure to say something in between of the conversation like " do you know what I mean?"
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
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!
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