Hanoi…The Old Quarter

With Jeremy temporarily out of action with his leg I set off to explore Hanoi on my own. With a new trusty map in hand I made my way to the Night Market. I was told to head toward Hoan Kiem Lake and I would find the market. It would be obvious. And it was. The surrounds of the lake was heaving with people. Mostly young. Mostly Vietnamese. All having a great time. There was a live band and food everyhwere.

Good to see OHS taken seriously.

They close off the streets to traffic and turn on all the pretty  lights. All the stalls have identical marques. It is obviously an official and organised affair. According to local folk it is 3km long and has about 2000 stalls. I would believe this! I walked the whole distance because I needed excercise. 

I made a couple of purchases. I was unsure as to the required etiquette in terms of bartering because it was an established affair. I decided to err on the side of caution and barter. Except when the price was displayed and it seemed like a good price. I purchased Jeremy a Ho Chi Minh T Shirt as a souvenir! I also got some Vietnamese hat styled windchimes for our balcony.


Jeremy went to the doctors and I headed out exploring once again. After a coffee at the base of St Joseph’s Cathedral with the locals,  I wandered the streets of The Old Quarter. The architecture is astounding. Very eye catching and one must be careful not to get too distracted because there are many obstacles to avoid, such as parked and moving motorbikes, street vendors and low overhanging roofs.

I eventually make my way to the Dong Xuan Market. I do like a good market and this is up there with the best. Outside is all the fruit, vegetables, spices, dried fish etc. It is not a wet market. There are no live animals apart from a few live fish in shallow bowls. 

After browsing these and trying to talk to a few vendors…unsuccesfully…I head inside to the absolute cavernous building full of tiny, very narrow aisles.One must really breath in and squeeze carefully when passing. I am never sure of the correct etiquette here…if there even is one..for this type of close quarters encounter. Do you go bum side or breast side?

There were many lovely vendors. They are not as pushy as those in Malay or Thai markets. They want to chat with you. They let you look at the stuff and leave, they do not push you unless you ask for the price. Then you are expected to barter and come to an arrangement, or walk off in disgust. I made some purchases. Probably paid more than locals but I was happy with the prices and pleased with my choices. 


Jeremy is back from the doctors and had a rest. He has proper pain killers and anti-inflammatory (rather than anti-pschotics) so things are looking up. We decide to take a couple of cyclos for an hour so that Jeremy can have an explore whilst sitting down. We walk down to Hoan Kiem Lake and negotiate the price of the cyclo. He started at Dong 300 000 for one. We had already been told the price and said, “No way. We’ll take Dong 300 000 for 2.” “Ok,” he says, pleased with the fact he managed a ride for his mate and didn’t have to take both of us in his cyclo.

The took us up and down the streets of The Old Quarter. This is now a very touristy area and the cyclos are not allowed down the smaller streets so we had to constantly battle the traffic. It felt like my driver was using my metal foot rest as a snow plough to charge through and gain ground in the busy street crossings.


I visited this a few times because the surrounding area is very pleasant and the building out of context and very photogenic. The first time was on dusk. The second time was for my morning Ca Pha before wandering the streets. I enjoyed playing with my cameras settings and came up with a few nice shots. On the last day in Hanoi, I discovered an alternative route to the lake down the narrow laneways and past the cathedral. Much less traffic and roads to negotiate.


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