Sunday, January 10, 2010

In Vietnam, the Street is King

Hanoi street (notice how everything goes according to its own agenda)

The Vietnamese street. Whoa... how do I describe it? Well, it's a place that makes your senses go into overdrive.
It's a place to get a traveler's fix if you built up a tolerance to more mundane destinations. It's also a place where the Street is King.

Almost every aspect of life revolves around what can be bought, sold, expressed, consumed, or enjoyed in the public arena.

There, you can swallow black coffee thick and dangerous as quicksand

Observe the motorbikes honking and zooming by.

Watch young lovers posing in front of ancient pagodas
Hoa Khoa Lake

Experience the most wonderful bakery smells hitting you as you walk, quickly replaced by the most fowl I-don't-even-want-to-consider-the-origin smells.

Feel the human connection with all the people in front of you, next to you, behind you all the time, brushing against you on the busy sidewalks and dropping their loads accidentally on your feet.

You can (unsuccessfully) try to avoid the straw rice hat wearing ladies force-burdening their baskets of bananas or washcloths on your shoulders in hopes of earning a little money from the photo op.

You can even get a hair cut and shave right there on that corner where the mirror is hanging on the tree.
Street barber set up

Let's just say that most destinations, beautiful, scenic, or historic they may be, can be underwhelming compared to this. I'm always one for being on the streets and seeking out the bizarre when I travel, and even I had to escape it after only 3 hours of walking around the Old French Quarter in Hanoi.

That said, I still loved it.

Vietnam Travel Tip#1: Book a hotel in the Old Quarter for easy walking access to many sights, and of course, to get lost in the maze of streets. We stayed in a hotel smack in the middle of this bustling part of town, the Hanoi Elegance Hotel #4, and I highly recommend it for the excellent service, cleanliness, and price.


Fly Girl said...

This sounds like exactly the kind of experience I love. Nothing beats getting lost in foreign streets and soaking up the sights, smells and sounds. I feel exhilerated just from reading this post!

Ekua said...

A Vietnamese streets. Now that I think about it, crossing the streets in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi is probably some of the most daring stuff I've ever done :P

Anonymous said...

is that one of those streets where there is no predetermined direction for the vehicles?

The building in the middle of the lake is really nice :)

Rambles With Reese said...

These are fantastic photos! I'm glad you're having a brilliant time in Hanoi. Vietnam is my favourite place in Asia and Hanoi is one of my favourite cities there. I love the mix of old Europe and Asia together.


Mary and Sean said...

Fly Girl,
Thanks! I love the lost part too... my husband not so much.

Mary and Sean said...

you're right about being daring. At one point, I had to climb over motorbikes in the middle of a traffic jam

Mary and Sean said...

Local guide,
Yes, I think it's one of those streets (as they all are in Vietnam) where everybody does their own thing, so paying attention skills become very important

Mary and Sean said...

The europe and asia mix is so fun to observe in different places. It's there in other countries too, but it's distinctive in Vietnam. I also love to see how other countries interpret the "croissant"


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