Our flight from Bangkok to Hanoi was hassle free, the visa on arrival process at Hanoi was a little bureaucratic which meant that getting through immigration took about an hour but there is always an upside to these things, no waiting for our bags to arrive, they were looking very lonely on carousel number one.

You suspect that these type of images are for the glossy tourist brochures, they are not, it is part of every day life in the city
You suspect that this type of image are for the glossy tourist brochures, they are not, it is part of every day life in the city

On the taxi ride in we were excited to see people in the fields in their conical hats, how Vietnamese, and by the time we hit town we were reaching for the cameras to take photos of the extraordinary traffic. Little did we realise that was just the beginning.

The hotel is in the depths of the old town which is a warren of narrow streets clogged with all forms of traffic from; women carrying fruit, meat and other merchandise using traditional carrying poles, to those with laden bicycles as well as; cars, buses and a mass of motorcycles which are the peoples form of transport.

The traffic appeared chaotic but somehow it works, we did not see any accidents during our stay but your initial reaction is wow.
The traffic appeared chaotic but somehow it works, we did not see any accidents during our stay but our initial reaction is, wow.
You eventually give up trying to walk along a footpath
we eventually gave up trying to walk along a footpath

The footpaths are not for walking on, they are for motorcycle parking and where the bikes have not claimed the space, all forms of commerce spill out from the narrow shops and homes or, is just claimed by “pop-up” vendors.  Street kitchens with people clustered around on tiny stools range from small operations selling fruit through to bigger operations with the cooking and dish washing all taking place on the footpath. I witnessed mobile fishmongers and butchers hauling there wares along the street using the carrying pole, they would stop on the road verge and cut the fish / meat to the clients requirements. Along side the food ventures the footpath becomes retail merchandising space or is used for light industrial activity.

The city was full of surprises, even Ruth sitting on one of the tiny stools that they use, in this case to browse the shop wares, was a surprise
The city was full of surprises, even Ruth sitting on one of the tiny stools that they use, in this case to browse the shop wares, was a surprise
Footpath retail Hanoi style, the original drive through.
Footpath retail Hanoi style, the original drive through.

It is exhilarating and overpowering at the same time, motorised traffic moves with one finger regularly tooting the horn, the hawkers are regularly trying to sell you the same goods you have just said “no thanks” to and all the time you are trying to negotiate your way along the street clogged on one side by commerce and on the other by a wall of traffic.

On a Saturday walk out to West Lake we saw many ladies in traditional dress have their photos taken
On a Saturday walk out to West Lake we saw many ladies in traditional dress having their photos taken
Once your fascination with the traffic waned and you lifted your line of vision above the motorcyles there was a new range of sites to grab your attention
Once your fascination with the traffic waned and you lifted your line of vision above the motorcycles there was a new range of sites to grab your attention

Your initial reaction is “how am I going to get across these streets?” Observing the locals is the best approach, you simply have to walk into the wall of oncoming traffic, looking to see if they are going to go in front or behind you, walk slowly but purposely and don’t run or be unpredictable. While it can initially be a little heart stopping, it works just as the traffic flow seems to.

The motorcycle appeared to be the primary method of distribution and family transport in the city. These were some we managed to capture there were many more extreme passenger and goods loadings that we saw but did not have the camera ready.
The motorcycle appeared to be the primary method of distribution and family transport in the city. These were some we managed to capture there were many more extreme passenger and goods loadings that we saw but did not have the camera ready.
You need to be watching what you are doing when walking along the street, there is little scope to be looking at much more than what is happening on your shoulder and in front of you.
You need to be watching what you are doing when walking along the street, there is little scope to be looking at much more than what is happening on your shoulder and in front of you.

I cannot do justice to describing Hanoi, it has been an amazing experience and I will let the pictures do the talking.

These little guys suddenly appeared out of a door and when the saw us they all wanted to say "hello", it has been something that all younger children are keen to try out on us.
These little guys suddenly appeared out of a door and when they saw us they all wanted to say “hello”, it has been something that all younger children are keen to try out on us.
The changing of the guard at Uncle Ho's Mausoleum. The more formal side of the city
The changing of the guard at Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum. The more formal side of the city
We were surprised to see fishermen at West Lake but we saw the catch go from the water to the frying pan. We also saw plenty of evidence that it was a tough life for the fish in the lake.
We were surprised to see fishermen at West Lake but we saw the catch go from the water to the frying pan. We also saw plenty of evidence that it was a tough life for the fish in the lake.
As with every other destination Hanoi had it's spot for wedding pictures - Lake Hoan Kiem in the centre of the city was a picture perfect spot
As with every other destination Hanoi had it’s spot for wedding pictures – Lake Hoan Kiem in the centre of the city was a picture perfect spot
The flag and billboards such as this reminded you of Vietnams politics. It is 60 years since independence so signage was proabably a little more prominent than usual
The flags and billboards such as this reminded you of Vietnam’s politics. It is 60 years since independence so signage was probably a little more prominent than usual

3 comments

  1. We loved Vietnam too, once we had got used to the traffic. Fantastic photos, glad you are still enjoying your trip, it seems an age since the bike and barge! Where are you off to next?

    Best wishes Carol and John

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    1. Hi Carol and John
      It does seem like a long time ago, we feel as though we are on the homeward journey now, just waiting for our transport back to Hanoi after 3 days on Halong Bay, off to Hue by overnight train tonight. We are still having a lot of fun.

      Cheers
      Cliff & Ruth

      Like

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