mastercopycat

Virtual meanderings

Ha Nging A-Round Ha Noi :P

I am neither the first nor will be the last to point out that the Vietnamese people are able to do just about any activity on the street sidewalks. Here are some random photos I took while walking around town.

The street barber of Hanoi

Need a haircut? Your friendly street barber who sets his office in the morning and packs it in the evening will fix you promptly.

Hat street vendor, Hanoi

Whether to hide the haristyle you just got or to simply relieve your brain from the heat – you could get a hat and look like a true Vietnamese.

A cup of tea on the street, Hanoi

Well, if you did not buy that hat you’ll be sorry by now because the heat is just killing you. But a cup of green tea with a piece of ice will bring you back to life – a refreshing ice-tea Vietnamese style. Vendors have a kettle with tea and a thermos flask with pieces of ice (such as the old woman on the photo). The ice melts in seconds and cools the tea. You can sit right on the sidewalk (or on a minute plastic chair if no-one else is sitting on the two or three usually available) and watch the traffic go buy. Tea costs 2000 dong (10 cents) and is delicious. Once you are done, you return your glass which is dipped in a bucket of water for sanitizing and ready to be used by the next customer.

Hanoi, Sweets street vendor

     And if the tea got you hungry, walk some more down the road get some dessert.

    Hanoi, Badminton on the sidewalks

Another activity to take up on the side walks is, of course, badminton- what else. Badminton fields are clearly marked with white paint. I am not sure who takes care of the net, but you can research it further.

Hens in Hanoi

Like their fellow-earthlings, Hanoi street chicken are comfortable with heavy traffic. What you do not see is the cars and scooters swinging by just a meter from the chickens. My cheap camera could not produce a decent photo of the moving traffic and I chose to go with this “car-less” picture that is deceptively relaxed.

Hanoi, Burning "hell money"

What are these people doing, fighting the cold? Unlikely. Preparing to cook some unlucky street-smart chicken? Well, no. My tone is a bit joking here to keep it in line with the other pictures, but what you see is the Vietnamese/Chinese ritual of burning fake (so-called “ghost money”) to honor the ancestors (a ritual performed on certain occasions). Yet another example of the sights you’d come across when simply walking around.

Hanoi, Burning "hell money" 2

The fake money gone, the spirits happy, time to do the clean-up.

And, talking about fake, I’d like to know what this is  –

Hanoi IKEA?
A 30-square meter IKEA?

Hanoy JYSK?

 I thought JYSK stores only sold furniture and household decorations. At least in Europe.

    And here is another street story. I was walking near Hanoi city center I passed by a man who sold books in English (from a sack on the back of his bicycle). Color cover and all. Each book was nicely wrapped up and sealed in nylon. Seeing a foreigner (me), the book seller could not let me pass by without going for the kill. So I finally gave up and picked up a book from Bill Bryson, an American author that I quite like, about his adventures in Australia.  The guy asked for 150,000 dong ($8). I told him I could give him 100,000 ($5) at most. I thought that those were second-hand books which he had acquired somehow and was selling them over. He agreed to my offer, I put the book in my backpack and went on. Later I sat on a bench at the Hoan Kiem Lake in the center to read and relax. I opened the book. It was all good but one little detail – it was made on a copier. Its “production” price, if I may call it this way, would be about a dollar, two at most (depending on how much it costs to print the color cover). I had heard about these fake books in Cambodia but before buying one I did not get what it is all about. Now you know.

* * *

        I took most of these photos on the day I visited the Museum of Ethnology – devoted to the 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam. The museum features extensive exhibitions of folk costumes, tools, household objects, etc. Unlike most other places of interest in Hanoi, it is quite far from the center and you need transport to get there. I took a city bus from the center (a bus ride costs 10 cents, and the buses are air-conditioned).

Hanoi, Ethnographical museum 1

Hm, was the architect inspired by a gigant octopus? Well, Wikipedia claims he was not. “The exhibition building was designed by the architect Hà Đức Lịnh, a member of the Tày ethnic group, in the shape of a Dong Son drum

Don Song drum, Vietnam

Dong Son drum, in case you wondered. Courtesy: wikipedia

Hanoi, Ethnographical museum 2

How the museum actually looks from the main entrance gate

If I remember right, taking photos was not allowed inside. I could be wrong about this, but I see no other explanation why I did not bring a ton of photos from the visit. That said, I did take one photo inside the museum, here it is:

Hanoi, Ethnographical museum 3

To find out more about what the museum has to offer, start with its website. But, honestly, the streets of Hanoi are an ethnology museum in and of themselves. Won’t you agree?

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3 responses to “Ha Nging A-Round Ha Noi :P

  1. Pingback: Hanging around Hanoi | round 2 « mastercopycat

  2. Pingback: My Vietnamese diet in photos « mastercopycat

  3. Pingback: Practicing Engrish @ Hoan Kiem Lake « mastercopycat

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