Let me take you on a photo tour of Hanoi, Vietnam.
I spent nearly 3 weeks in the city. It is chaotic and polluted, noisy and huge but at the same time there are pockets of quiet and green, temples and lakes.
I used a compact Panasonic Lumix camera and my mobile phone when I was in S E Asia. I wanted something that didn’t attract too much attention and that could be slipped into my pocket – you can find the same via this link to Amazon
People charge around like crazy demented ants and then they stop! They take a coffee on a dilapidated terrace or they squat down on tiny low stools for a lunch of the tastiest noodles ….before diving off headlong into the craziness again and continuing with their day.
Water features heavily and life revolves around the park and the lake. Turtles swim in the murky green waters and a temple floats etheral like in the mist. Groups of students gather here and will accost you at every opportunity begging to practice their languages and will proudly tell you about their culture and heritage.
The Temple of Literature is both packed with tourists yet it also has a serenity about it. Incense burns in huge cauldrons and the vivid red paint has a dusty feel.
Water, flags and lanterns are everywhere, jostling for space in the sky with electric cables, buildings and trees. This is the view of the awesome cable system outside my balcony. i stayed here at See You at Lily’s when I got sick. You can read my article on how to deal with sickness while travelling here and about the entrepreneurial Rezma, one of the owners of See you at Lily’s here.
Everywhere in Vietnam people are selling things on the streets. You can truly buy ANYTHING. But the fruit and veg markets are the best and are always filled with wonderful looking produce.
As well as buying anything on the street you can eat anything on the street. Street food stalls have their devoted followers and set up and are successful in the most improbable places. Any small space. verge or pavement will do.
A visit to the mausoleum that contains the (open) coffin of Ho Chi Minh is an interesting experience. Sombre groups of visitors file past, watched by armed guards as they walk through the tomb. The whole complex is huge and is run with military precision to ensure that nobody misses their allocated time slot to view the body.
Even in the chilly foggy spring days, people are out on the streets in Hanoi.
A few hours drive from Hanoi are the spectacular limestone karsts at Tam Coc which is near Nimh Binh. We had a fantastic day out here, arranged through Lily’s Travel Agency. The choice of tours and agencies is overwhelming but we couldn’t fault one bit of our trips that we booked here.
On our day out that we booked with Lily we went on a boat ride down the river. Huge karsts towered above us as our guide rowed us with his feet through low caves and along a magical waterway. Our day included a cycle tour among the paddy fields, lunch and a temple visit in the mountains.
The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is well worth the taxi ride out. It is a very interesting museum about the people of Vietnam with the highlight being the reconstructions of some of the traditional houses.
And you certainly should not miss the fascinating Women’s Museum with costumes and insights into the lives of women – from the traditional to the role of women during the war
St Joseph cathedral was just around the corner from my hostel in the old town. It stood out among the temples and pagodas – and on Sunday evening while the church was packed, the square out front was also packed with an overflow congregation – but they were all sat on their motorbikes.
You would not know half of the little cafes exist unless you happen to glance up. I spent many hours up on this balcony overlooking the lake.
Hanoi has a strange ambience – like no other city that I have been in. Sadly the traffic pollution is high – and can only get worse if the government relax their rules on the new car taxes.
An oasis of peace in the craziness of Hanoi.
One of the little streets in the old town by my hostel. It was a buzzing, exciting and friendly area.
A group of travellers meeting up for a coffee. I wonder where everybody is now?
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