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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hanoi walking tour - Last Day

So the last day was a bit more of a leisurely look around the Old Quarter.  After another superb breakfast we set off on foot to see what we could discover. Over 1000 years ago artisans moved to the capital city to do business and they gathered together in this area to share the resources. As a result, many of the streets were named after the crafts sold at that individual street. Pho Hang Bun (Vermicelli), Pho Hang Ma (Paper Product), Pho Hang Bac (Silver), etc are examples of the streets carrying the name of the products sold there.  Although many of the streets no longer sell the products which they were named after, many still do.  It is the perfect area for walking although can be a little dangerous as you spend a lot of time on the road as the footpaths are blocked with bikes.  So here we go.....

The French influence is very much alive and well not just in Hanoi but all of Vietnam.  Fabulous breads, pastries, baguettes and creme caramels just to name a few.
The coal guy.

The kids are fairly used to getting second looks from the locals.  It is ALWAYS friendly but at times can be a bit overwhelming.  Depends on their mood.  Having said that, maybe she was looking at my hot hubbys butt!

Making mince meat.  On the street.  As you do.

Next trip we will definitely take the time to get some hand carved stamps done.  Time just got away from us.

One of the more popular beers in Hanoi.

Checking out Hoan Kiem Lake.

The shoe repair guy.

Bet this guys could tell some stories.

Now I don't know why but the kids decided to help this lady dust her shoes.  They don't clean up like this at home!

Ahhh....a true mother/daughter bonding moment over the purchase of shoes. *sigh*

Posing with the new shoes.  They are the ugliest things I have ever seen.  She adores them!

Living on the edge and asking someone to take our photo and hoping they do not run off with the camera.  Life is all about risks!

Scarlett counting her blessings and having a bit of a chat to Buddha.

They actually really love Buddha and talk about him a lot.  I may have some trouble explaining that to the Catholic primary schools I will be trying to enrol them in when we go home!

A red door.

Nick and I liked to call this salmonella on wheels.  Pay particular attention to the manky looking hot dogs sitting out in the not so fresh Hanoi air.  Seriously, why would you?

If anyone can enlighten me on this one feel free.  On this corner all of the guys had these saws.  There was no residue around so I have no idea what they were cutting.  I thought perhaps ice but where is it?  And why are you all sitting together?

Time to stop for a coffee and plan our next section.  The kids adore maps and love following them.  Maybe it's because Nicks dad tells me he used to wrap his school lunch in a map but he kept coming home anyway.

I mean what can you say?  Around every corner is something either stunning, interesting or hilarious.  What an amazing city!

This guys was mushing up some sort of fish paste. Yes, it had a smell that will outlast religion.

Vietnamese spam.  I love this graffiti that you see all over the walls.  It for me is a bit of an iconic image that will always remind me of Vietnam.

The old pith helmets are much more common up north than in Saigon.  I think they are fabulous!

Bamboo Street is one of my favourites.

I have a bit of an obsession with Chinese medicine shops.  I adore the magnificent wooden draws filled with exotic and aromatic surprises.  This street had shop after shop after shop.  You could smell it a block away.

This is why I love Vietnam.

As you are wandering don't forget to look up!  So much goes on above the shops where people live.  Many people, and rightly so, are so busy trying not to get knocked over by a motorbike, that they miss the life that is happening right under (or should I say above) their noses.

Found this little street called Dong Xuan.  It was jam packed with tiny food stalls that looked and smelled amazing.  People where going crazy for the food in there.

It must feel like eating at the kitchen table.  She prepares it all right there in front of you and you just dig in.


This guys proceeded to put this little baby in poor Quiddys lap so he could take a photo.  Quiddy thought it was funny until the little fella started crying.  He then says "Get it off me!"

After a hard mornings walking it is time for Fanta Hoi!

...and Bia Hoi too of course.

Time to kick back and take it all in.

Hanoi thank you so much for showing us such a great time.  We really enjoyed our flying visit and will come and see you again soon on our way to Sapa.  Essence Hotel, you will definitely see us again and we will be recommending you to friends.  Bia Hoi, we will be looking for you southern cousin in the near future.  Xin Chao for now!


  1. I love these photos so much! I've recently discovered your blog and have been looking forward to all of your posts. To me, you are really "living the dream." We adopted our son from Hue in 2008 and are taking him back to visit in December, these photos of Hanoi have made me so excited for our trip! I would love to bring our son back to Vietnam and live there with him for a while...I am so envious of you!

    Sarah in Boston, Massachusetts
    (we are blogging our return trip to Vietnam here)

  2. The locals have to stare @ your kids cuz they are so cute!!! Love the pix of your family @ the temple. So many pixs I like!!!
    About those men w/ saws, my wife said they are day laborers for any type of work.

  3. Thanks Sarah and Anonymous! So glad that people are enjoying our journey with us. Sarah how amazing that you adopted your son from Vietnam. I would dearly love to do the same but Australian adoption laws are ridiculous and archaic. I look forward to following your trip in December. Let me know when it is up and running and I will add it to my blog roll. Anon thats really interesting re the workers. I guess it is a bit like the spam numbers on the walls. I believe that they advertise similar things. Good to see some old pro active action rather than bemoaning a lack of work. Good for them!

  4. Old school commerce's energy is well captured in those pics. There's nothing comparable in a Walmart, let me tell you: only mind numbing staidness and people pushing their shopping carts around while starring blankly at the shelves like drones.

  5. Couldn't agree more Robert. Sometimes the difference between what we need and what we want is enormous. I am always promising myself to just buy the food I need day to day so as not to waste so much. For some reason it seems to be ingrained that I need a full pantry. I have a lot to learn. Having said next post is about shopping for western products! One day I will figure out how I actually fit in here!

  6. Terrific photos Dani! Your post always make my day!

    Wish I can visit Hanoi soon and I will keep Essence Hotel in mind! :)


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