Good morning, and goodbye, Vietnam!

It’s the FINAL post from our epic trip to North Vietnam and I can’t believe it has taken me 16 months to completely document it!!

So enjoy these last few romps around the grimy, colourful and chaotic back streets of Hanoi!

We enjoy a much needed beverage high above the humid, hectic streets.

Then it’s off to check out yet more streets packed full of tourist tat, temple art and traditional water theatre puppets.

Silk dresses and graffiti, no image sums up Hanoi more that this. The dainty and ornate V the gritty, edgy realism.

A mobile seller displays his woven wares on the back of his trusty bicycle.

More floral delights and a seemingly impossible task for these electricians!

A moment of almost calm captured in the midst of the hustle and bustle.

No roaming would be complete without a hopeful wander over to Train Street to see if we can catch sight of the epic train . .

and we are in luck!

We manage to catch it, rumbling along in broad daylight, and you can really get a sense here of just how big, and how close it got!

And that is it folks! The end of another incredible adventure. Vietnam is a country on the up.

I predict it will soon overtake other over travelled places such as Thailand and Bali as the next up and coming ‘exotic’ hot spot.

So catch it while it still retains its natural charm and incredible traditions.

Until next time! Good morning Vietnam – and goodbye!! 😦

Street scenes

How much love can one human being have for markets? The answer – a lot!

Hanoi is just shopping heaven. This stall sells all things plastic and fake – from garlands of garish flowers and vegetables to rows of lucky pigs.

Then we’re heading back to Dong Xuan Market to carry on exploring the mountains of produce, fabric and tat that’s on offer.

On route I spot this very smiley flower seller, who zips along the crowded streets leaving a fragrant trail in his wake.

Dong Xuan Market is the largest in Hanoi and is housed in a four story, soviet style building.

There’s a bustling wet market, huge fabric floor and the ever fascinating dry goods section.

The market tumbles out onto the streets in a riot of colour, smells and shouting stall holders.

There are some many details to capture, you could spend a whole day just in a few square miles.

Piles of fresh vegetables form a colourful feast for the eyes against a backdrop of peeling paint and wet concrete.

Stall holders take a brief break in this tiny corner of the city.

Buyers browse a range of locally grown vegetables that they will pop into boxes, baskets and other receptacles on bikes and mopeds.

From furry rambutan to visceral, gutted fish, everything can be bought right here, literally on the street.

And everywhere are the ubiquitous conical hats, that could be passed off as sterotypical, but really are still an everyday sight.

Spray painted walls are reminiscent of Blade Runner and high rise Tokyo.

While cyclo sellers have baskets of items for sale, zipping past you at speed.

It’s an intoxicating, frustrating, deafening, colourful and exhilarating city.

More Hanoi MORE!

There’s an architectural oddity in Hanoi that doesn’t seem to fit in with the local style – St. Joseph’s Cathedral (Vietnamese: Nhà thờ Lớn Hà Nội, Nhà thờ Chính tòa Thánh Giuse)

It’s a late 19th-century Gothic Revival that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi to nearly 4 million Catholics in the country.

If you look closely you can see a tiny man up a ladder cleaning!

Below are just some of the incredible stalls on every street. Lots of the streets are themed according to what they are selling.

Below are some of the DIY shops – the Vietnamese equivalent of ScrewFix!

The city has grown organically – but upwards not outwards. That’s due to the cost of land -when the cities started growing, the laws were that you’d only get charged on the length of the front facade of the dwelling.

As a result you’ll see lots of thin, narrow but very high buildings, usually at least three stories tall.

These are called tube houses. Because of high population density you find them in cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

At the front of them you’ll find the whole of life being lived on the streets. Cooking, selling, arguing and chatting.

Whether it’s traditional food being cooked on teeny, tiny little stoves, to live crabs in buckets.

Heaps of fresh greens await a multitude of home cooks, while flower sellers hawk their wares on their rickety old bikes.

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And to finish it off, another of the fantastical, rainbow coloured lanterns.

Plus some cute little cooking moulds and tiny good luck charms.

Marvellous markets

From the serene green of Mai Chau we’re thrust back into the hectic hustle and bustle of Hanoi with its waves of moped riders.

We’re nearing the end of this epic trip but we’ve still got a day left to go explore some more . . .

That can only mean one thing . . . MORE MARKETS!!!! Here we are in the night market in the centre of the old quarter.

I have had my eye on these tasty, colourful, frozen treats all week . . . not too sure how good they are for your innards but they look very pretty with their dry ice plumes . . .

Enjoy a close up of these water coloured, icy beauties!!! 🙂 🙂

And here’s the stall keeper, trying to studiously avoid catching my eye . .

The next morning I am still alive and not frozen solid internally so off we go.

First a little mild stalking of the basket carriers (it’s par the course now, like a daily habit) then off to check in again at train street as we want to see the beast in the day – but alas not the right time! Try again later . . .

A back street alley reveals a slightly rickety hot drinks stand.

And we spy piles of yet more mopeds – I wonder what they call a group of bikes? A rabble, a roar, a cacophony? . . .

Lots more of this vibrant city to come before we hop back on the plane!