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
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.