Waking up in Hanoi…

27 Jun


Didn’t take long to realise why Hanoi shuts up tight at night – the city needs all the energy it can get for the long, hot, bustling days that begin at 6am with publicly broadcast news – direct to the street from loud speakers dotted along power lines and concrete telegraph poles. Then it’s down to the lake for some arobics, badmington, jogging, volleyball or a crazy flying foot-only volleyball with a flying shuttlecock that whizzes through the air in a blur.

In the Old Quarter, life pours from dark, narrow alleyways right onto the street. Guilds that originated in the 17th century define each narrow thoughfare – objects of worship, tombstones, ribbon, rubber stamps, tin objects from cake tins to bike racks, and tall lengths of bamboo, and more modern requirements like mechanics, moto seat covers, fans, and hair clips and blow up toys (floaty rings, dolphins, wading pools, bouncy animals, bright balloons…)

Weaving through these tight streets, footpath packed with parked bikes, tea shops, and wares on display, are wirely-strong street sellers. These women, carrying their products balanced on a rough length of bamboo, baskets bobbing with each trotting step, sell everything from tofu bubbling in hot oil as they walk, to ice tea and live chickens. See the balloons in the distance – that woman spent her days in the middle of the road, but at least she had a light load…

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