Sunday, May 04, 2014

Essence of Hanoi

A simple joy of Hanoi (North Vietnam) was just wandering the streets and alleys, taking in the culture, and sampling the foods that make the place special.

On the street, honking motor-scooters competed with rickshaws, vendors with baskets, bicycles, pedestrians, and cars.

Rickshaw riding

A scene that spans centuries

To cross the streets or intersections, one simply steps out slowly and w e a v e s their way through the hordes of oncoming traffic with confidence from knowing that the drivers are always watching. It seems to work. We didn't see any road kill!

Running the gauntlet

The sidewalks serve a multitude of occupants and purposes. Pedestrians compete with parked motor-scooters, street vendors, eateries, as well as shop wares that spill out to the curb. We, like many others, usually ended up just walking on the road, giving way to traffic as their honking dictated.

Sidewalks but no room for walking

The umpteen sidewalk eateries (literally) were abuzz with locals and brave tourists like us. They were always an easy find. We just had to watch for the smoke from their grills or use our noses to follow the aromas to the best ones, always the busiest, and usually on the corners.

It was a great way to sample new foods because we could pick out what we wanted from the display of different dishes laid out. We squatted on low tiny stools by tables with amputated legs and ate amid the din and close proximity of all types of interesting and bustling passing traffic.

Sidewalk dining

A slightly known but special treat is the Pho Cocktail. It blends Gin or Vodka with typical flavours that go into the local soup (Pho). Sounds strange, but the party in your mouth makes this drink one that you will try over and over, which we did!

What was strikingly obvious about the Vietnamese was how energetically enterprising they were. We saw no panhandlers. Their days started early and they seemed always on the go.

Feather duster vendor

Currency is the Dong: currently 1 Canadian dollar equals approximately 20,000 Dong, and $52 equals 1,006,921 Dong. Wow - we're multi-millionaires in Dong currency!

The local women were almost always dressed up. They wore stilettos riding motor-scooters with dresses, skirts, and even shorts. They wore their clothing tight and short and often transparent blouses with fancy bras. Slim is the word here, very few overweight people. A nice change from many other countries!

1 comment:

Peter Green said...

Great photographs.... really capture the culture.