Friday, March 26, 2010

A Walking Tour of Hanoi

a Noi is a fabulous city. Vibrant and fast paced, at times simply walking down the street can feel like a full-out assault on your senses, but we found that with a little patience and an open mind, Hanoi is a wonderful city just waiting to be explored.
We plan to have three full days in Hanoi spred out over our last week in Vietnam, so we spent our first day doing a little walking tour of Old Town. The tour didn't include any typical tourist sights really, but it was a great way to get a feel for the city and soak it all in. By the end of the day we were mastering the fine art of crossing the street and navigating the crowded sidewalks. 
Tip: watch out for hazzards from above! I was hit in the head by a bolt that was dropped by someone working on the city's powerlines!

The streets in Hanoi seem to be organized thematically with stores selling similar wares all lined up together in clusters. As we walked from street to street, we passed enclaves of black smiths, tin smiths, carpenters, barbers, painters, manicurists and more.  In a city as crowded as Hanoi, space is at a premium. Every inch is up for grabs and the city's sidewalks have all been converted into workshops, restaurants, storefronts, and salons with everyone was doing their work out in the open.
 manicure on the side walk in front of an art gallery
 cut and a shave just outside the Temple of Literature
 Lock yourself out of your car? No worries, the locksmith is just hanging out on the roadside
power tools on the side walk

One my favorite stops of the day was the market. It was busteling with activity and full of all kinds of wonderful sights and smells.





At the end of our walk we went by Hoan Kiem Lake and the Temple of Literature to get a little zen in our lives.
 incense at the Temple of Literature


Burning paper money at the temple on Hoan Kiem Lake

With the exception of a brief time when we thought we had lost some money (it's ok, everything is fine!!) we great day exploring the city. We've still got two more days to hang out in Hanoi and get some shopping done, but for now, we're off to the mountains of Sapa! 

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