A common sight in Vietnam are vendors in the unmistakable Vietnamese conical hat. These women walk from street to street and place to place to hawk their wares, which are usually food or fruits such as mangoes, strawberries and the local star apple.
I bought some mangoes from one of the vendors. Just carrying the 2 kilos with me to the airport and back home to Malaysia was a real chore. I guess most of us cannot imagine how hard these women work...to make a living.
The Chinese invaded Viet Nam several times, the French colonised Tonkin and Annam, the Americans “napalmed” villages and cities and defoliated thousands of square kilometres of forests, but all learned to know the bitter taste of defeat!
Military training is apparently a very important custom in Vietnam, and walking in the streets you may often come across groups of young people, school pupils attending military training. The photographs here have been taken in public parks (in the morning), on several occasions south and east of Hoan Kiem lake.
I personally HATE militarism, military marches, weapons, uniforms, “homogeneous” crowds or herds etc. etc. . . but have respect for freedom, people who defend their faith, ideas, beliefs, their group or person. . . well, no space here to discuss about! Thinking about with historical background and examples is part of real tourism to me. And here, my understanding is that recent history may in some way be responsible for these brainwashing sessions, which are felt necessary by government and people. Sad but I can understand in some way
Ah, the brainwashing session is not that bad, the young people smile and wink at the foreigner looking at them!(Picture5)
You will encounter many interesting people in the streets of Hanoi. For example, we came across this group of men who were playing some kind of board game right on the side walk itself.
As I didn't know what game it was, I figured it to be some kind of street chess.
I've been experimenting with the pics so it turned out kind of funny. Ooops- sorry about that!
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 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.
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
Mid- Autumn Festival is for the children especially, that's why in Hang Ma street - the joss-paper street of Hanoi , is all in red colour. Traditional toys and modern toys are selling here from the 1st of August lunar month.
Vietnamese people have moon cake for this festival. So sweet I must say! But it's worth to try. :) Favourite toys of children that day are star - lanterns and masks.
During the day, walking in the streets, you may see lots of these guys having a rest on their bike! The pictures here demonstrate following: if these guys are able to sleep on their narrow bike, they must be very dexterous in the traffic! So do not be scared when taking that kind of transportation, guys sleeping on their bikes must be good at driving. But all guys sleeping on their bikes are not taxis, so do not wake them up for a ride, you never know in what mood they wake up. . . . . Ah! The guy on the third picture is a goods transporter, he has no space on his vehicle. . . . and the biker on the fourth picture just woke up
This is the conclusion of a Swiss expat living in Hanoi, which was on the Pathfinder 2005. Enjoy!
5. "HELLO MOTO"
The prennial hoohoo-ing of xe om drivers is as much a part of Vietnamese life as Pho. Is there anything more annouing that the strange mating call of the sadly unendangered species that greets you every morning as you walk down the same road? Admittedly now I find the noise a pretty accurate modd swing barometer.
4. Why did the chicken cross the road...
Because he had a death wish. Timidly stepping forwards like young chicks, edging slowly across, between the never-ending stream of motorbikes, to the safe-haven of the adjacent pavement, only to find it cluttered with food stalls. Mind you sitting at a good advantage point cafe watching fresh travellers trying to negociate their way through the motorbikes is a valid of top 5 experience.
3. Whingeing Poms
Whingeing certainly ismt confined to the sceptred isle. What is worse than hearing a fellow expat slagging of the the Vietnamese, from the comforts of a western cafe or air conditioned house overlooking the West Lake. And if I never hear another " he called me fat " conversation well it still will to be many. If you dont like it why stay.
2. Pennies from heaven
This really should be number one, but I've only heard of it through the grapevine. Sitting on a motorbike and having a bag of vomit, chucked from a passing bus, land on your lap, or worse still smack into your motorbike helmet. Yuck!
1. Xe om smells
" I love the smell of a xe om drivers shirt in the morning". Not really, but still, as bad as their mating call is, it's that ditinctive, higly toxic smell that gets my number one award. It's almost enough to make you wear a motorbike helmet.
No, it is not voyeurism! In Hanoi, you may be surprised by the number of young couples, walking hand in hand, sitting on benches, kissing as if nobody is around. . . refreshing view to me, optimism, just beauty of life! Nothing more, and it remembers me an old song from Georges Brassens, an anarchist poet and singer, famous in France in the sixty-seventies. . . listen to Les amoureux qui se bécotent sur les bancs publics, which mocks people scandalized by what they see on public benches. . . . I blurred the faces of the protagonists, when it is possible to recognize them, I do not want to trigger possible conjugal problems!
Is it not refreshing?
The inhabitants of Hanoi have an incredible sense of discipline! Do you see the difference on pictures 1 and 2? One has been taken before December 14th 2007 and the second one after December 14th 2007! Yes! From one day to the other the motor bikers changed from driving without helmet to drive with helmet; the law making helmets compulsory was applicable from that date and it was a surprise to see suddenly all these helmets on the streets, as there were very few, one day before; may be government and police are very strict, whatever, all these people followed the rule, and it may have a link with long historical sense of discipline. . . .
The two next pictures are also from before and after 14th of december and the last picture is from December 13th evening. . . . some shops were very busy!
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!
Vietnamese people are very tough at bargaining, a lot more than chinese people for instance.
If you happen to buy souvenirs and stuff, here are a couple of advice:
1/ learn a bit of vietnamese, not much but a little and especially the figures, greeting expressions.
They will smile and the atmosphere will be lighter.
2/ Always use humour, don' t get annoyed.
3/ Go late in the evening, they will have had a good day already, they'll be tired and if you insist a little the prices will go down as far as 50-60%
Be wide awake yourself. take a nap in the afternoon!!!! a little trired and you yield easily, they know it !!
3/ Pretend (if it is not true) that you've been there several times and yes you know this is way too much.
4/ If you are not desparate for buying an item and you see you can't lower the price significantly, then, drop it, and go away. they may run after you.
In a nut shell,: always look as if you have all your wits under control, always try to appear that you dominate the situation.
But don't forget, Vietnamese people are tough but fun to bargain with if you know how to keep your temper.
Never forget this is a game.
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.
In Hang Bac street, in the Old Quarter, you will find many little shops where artisans carve handmade gravestones with images of the deceased in it.
I found it rather peculiar, as we only use to put names and dates in our gravestones in Spain.