An Old Quarter Walk and a Dog in a Conical Hat…
Two weeks ago, Piers’ god mother (and husband – both very good family friends) came to visit. We had a fantastic time showing them around as they were probably some of the most enthusiastic and interested guests we have ever had stay! Although we did a lot more than the pictures below convey, here are a few snaps I took on one of our walks around Hanoi’s Old Quarter. We followed a very similar route which I use for the walks that I give for Friends of Vietnam Heritage – a volunteer group which does walks, talks, films, and excursions aimed at enhancing people’s knowledge about Vietnamese culture and history.
After a brunch of Banh Cuon, we visited one of my favorite temples in Hanoi, Huyen Thien. The complex combines a Chua, Den, and Dinh and has a lovely atmosphere as it is run by nuns and the Den section, dedicated to Tran Vu, probably hasn’t been renovated in about 100 years. We then headed around Dong Xuan market looking all the live animals – turtles, frogs, fish as well as other Vietnamese specialties such as Gac fruit, banana flowers, and betel nuts.
We also popped into Bac Ma, or White Horse Temple. One of the oldest (about 1,000 years old) and most important temples in the old quarter, dedicated to the mythical White Horse which is seen as the guardian of Hanoi.
As we walked along Hang Buom, formerly ship sail street, we bumped into a rather precocious Vietnamese kid as we stopped to look at the architecture of some of the buildings. At first we thought he was shy and a perhaps a bit scared of Tala, but he soon pulled out a ‘weapon’ or rather a slap watch… and was ready to defend his turf from the invading foreigners and their wimpy hound. I love this series of photos – photo credit goes to Mike Galvin for capturing the sequence.
It was then time for some quick souvenir shopping. While we were looking for some conical hats for our niece and nephew, Tala obligingly tried some on for size. Needless to say the hound was not particularly amused…
After that it was on to Bun Bo Nam Bo – or Southern style beef with rice noodles – one of my favorite street foods with one of the best located at 57 Hang Dieu. They serve all day which is unusual as most places which are usually all packed up by 1 pm.
As always Hanoi never ceases to amaze – we spotted this guy with his extra wide and long load of mattresses pulling out of a foam mattress shop.
On to Hang Manh street where there are still some traditional wood carvers who make mid-autumn cake moulds and stamps. Also a mechanic who I spotted concentrating as seriously on a tricycle as he would on a motorbike!
Down on Hang Trong there is a very popular new street food which only comes out at about 4:00pm as a snack – it seems to be all the rage with young Hanoians.
I also finally got a photo of this very sweet dalmatian who I think is sadly being used to pump out far too many puppies to satisfy the Vietnamese desire for ‘exotic’ breeds.
I do love the Old Quarter and its quirkiness. Whether it be on one of my Friends of Vietnam Heritage Walks or when visitors are in town I always seem see something new!