Various vegetables

Moving swiftly away from the grisly meat end of the market, I’m back on more palatable ground in the colourful vegetable section of Bac Ha market.

Mountains of jewel bright carrots, onions, courgettes and bitter gourds tumble to the ground wherever you look.

Tiny, scorching chillies, quail eggs and all the fresh herbs you could possibly want or need.

Purple aubergines are cheek by jowl against ruby red tomatoes, zesty limes and bunches of spring onions.

It doesn’t get any fresher than this and watching the nimble bartering between the stall holders and the hordes of shoppers is a sport in itself.

Lots more colourful snaps to come from this frenetic and fantastic market.

Bustling Bac Ha

Bac Ha is one of the most colorful ethnic markets of all Northwest Vietnam.

It is a fusion of the many different hill tribes that inhabit the Bac Ha mountain district and here you can easily distinguish them by their different colourful traditional clothing.

I was in seventh heaven surrounded by the colourful typical traditional costumes of local tribes including the Tay, the Dzay, the Red Dzao and the Black H’mong.

The market is set out in distinct areas, one for handicrafts, art and fabric, others for fresh vegetables, others for meat and fish.

Let’s take a wander to the visceral end of the market first shall we . . .

A stall holder singes the hairs off a leg of pork, she’s wielding that blow torch like a seasoned pro!

Whether it crawls, gallops, squirms or swims, it is probably to be found in this section of the market.

You don’t want to mess with this tiny but fierce lady!

As a lifelong vegetarian, I am always appalled, yet also strangely intrigued, by the bloodier aspects of other culture’s cuisine.

In the UK people have a very sanitised approach to the meat on their plate, they rarely see it butchered or make the connection between the live animal and the tasty end product.

Here however it is unavoidable, grisly and rather stomach turning!

Fantastic fabrics

Established in 1889, Dong Xuan Market is Hanoi’s largest indoor market and is crammed to the rafters with a bewildering array of goods from fresh produce, plastic hair accessories and makeup to electronics and household appliances.

Let’s explore just a small section of it below – the fabric floor!

Being the daughter of an immensely talented, fully qualified tailor did not, alas, imbue me with any noticeable sewing talents, but I do share my mum’s love of a good fabric!

And they don’t come any better than here . . . in this maze of tiny shops and endless expanses of coloured cloth – it’s tiring work, just check out the man below if you don’t believe me!

Every colour of the rainbow is here and every type of fabric, from tulle and satin to lace and cotton.

Whether it’s patterned or plain, embroidered, weaved or stitched, you’ll find something to oooh and ahhh over (if you’re a fabric nerd like me!)

It can be hard to find space to walk between the narrowly packed in stalls, so shop owners just crawl and climb over their vast stock.

So many choices! Another place I had to be literally dragged out of . .. but never fear, there’s LOTS more markets still to come 🙂

Back to Nam!

Finally after more than a decade I am finally back in the country that started it all – Vietnam!

Way back in 2008 I went on my first ever Asian adventure to Cambodia and South Vietnam and I have always wanted to come back and explore the north of the country.

And finally here I am! Husband in tow we have landed in Hanoi, the bustling Northern city that will act as our base for exploring this beautiful country.

We’re based in the frantic Old Quarter in the Queen Light Hotel,

The Old Quarter is a place of street sellers, a million mopeds and more chaos and colour than you can shake a stick at.

But we’re only there a night before we’re heading off for our first trip. A three night tour of Ha Long Bay and Tam Coc. So watch this space!

Sri Mariamman Temple

Sri Mariamman Temple dates back to 1827 and is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore.

Beneath the imposing gopura are huge wooden doors. Their massive size is quite deliberate, designed to remind the worshippers of their insignificance in comparison to the divine.

Devotees believe that ringing the bells on the doors will bring good luck.

It’s located in Chinatown and is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases.

Two nearby streets got their names because of this temple: Temple Street (for obvious reasons) and Pagoda Street, because of the shape of the temple’s gopura.

Now a national monument, much of the present structure is believed to have been built in 1862-1863 by Indian craftsmen.

Highly ornate and colourful ceiling paints abound in the temple. Each one is an eye-catching delight.

Colourful chaos

One of my favourite things to do in a new city is just to mooch around and soak up the sights.

In Singapore’s Little India district you are besieged by sights, sounds, smells and colours.

From gorgeous floral garlands for use in temples, weddings and special occasions to piles of fresh, mouth watering produce.

My favourite exotic fruit – the rambutan – is to be found piled high with its prickly little exterior hiding a small, white fruit.

As well as fruit and flowers you can rifle through endless lovely handicrafts from embroidered umbrellas to wooden carvings – fancy a tiger dear . . .?

Even now my mouth waters at the endless selection of fruit juices on offer here.

From honey lemon to sugarcane juice, papaya to lychee, there’s a colourful option for everyone!

Finally before we head off I spot a bucket full of stunning lotus blossoms.

These sculptural blossoms can often be found gracing temples as offerings to deities.

The Lotus flower is regarded in many different cultures, especially in eastern religions, as a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth.

Its characteristics are a perfect analogy for the human condition – even when its roots are in the dirtiest waters, the Lotus produces the most beautiful flower.

Wall art

If like me you’re reduced to a snap happy frenzy at the sight of some colourful wall art then you’ll be in seventh heaven in Singapore.

We stumbled across these spectacular examples in Little India and naturally I had to spend a while taking some snaps!

These joy filled images are Kathaka by Didier Mathieu aka Jaba – the name is a reference to a type of Indian dance.

You can find them at 68 Serangoon Road, at the junction with Upper Dickson Road

And just across the road is a mural by Eunice Lim called Book-a-Meeting for Artwalk Little India 2018 which is an extension of the 30-year old Siyamala bookstore it is connected to.

I enjoy the cheeky cow seemingly taking a look at the sombre hubby!!!

Singapore sensory overload

I’m so far behind with my travel blog that I’m only just starting on the first trip of 2019!!

As it was a ‘big’ birthday year I got to chose where we headed for our long haul adventure – and it just had to be back to Vietnam. The place that set off my love affair with Asia way back in 2008.

We also decided to stop over in Singapore for a few days too. So let’s dive headfirst into these amazing places.

We stayed in the lovely Summer View hotel that was ideally placed to explore this hectic city.

There’s lots of fascinating districts in Singapore including Arab street and the colourful Little India district which is where I dragged the hubby first!

From multi-coloured shutter and incredible street art, to buildings so candy coloured that you want to nibble them, this area is amazing to just wander round and soak up the sights.

The incredible House of Tan Teng Niah is one such incredible rainbow hued sight.

The house was built in 1900 and belonged to Tan Teng Niah, a Chinese merchant who made sweets and sold them in stores along nearby Serangoon Road.

Gorgeous isn’t it! You can find this little gem by taking the MRT to Little India Station, taking exit E and following the snap happy tourists 🙂

Every wall and building is a colour clashing dream – even the toilet below is a pastel coloured delight!

Little Venice

More mooching around Mykonos old town reveals my all time favourite shop tucked down an alleyway and smothered in postcards and paintings.

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Every square inch of this little souvenir shop is covered in paintings and postcards of this picturesque island. All azure seas and blue domes.

I’m a bit obsessed and have to be bodily dragged away by the husband . . . .

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Heading down another tiny alleyway we’re suddenly confronted with a rocky drop and the sea!

Behind us you can see the line of famous windmills, one of the iconic sights of the island.

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We also get an alternative view of the bustling little quarter known as Little Venice where restaurants hover just feet away from the lapping sea water.

You can just about make out one of the hulking great big cruise ships that flood this tiny town with 1000s of visitors each day.

Back to wandering the seemingly endless, maze like streets, throw up yet more lovely details.

More traditional gifts such as olive oil soaps and woven bags all tempt the tourists.

For such a small place, the Hora sure has a lot to investigate. So watch this space!

 

Colourful Chinatown

Even though we turned our eyes westward for our honeymoon we can’t quite escape our love of all things Asian. So we’re heading to Chinatown for a snoot around.

Manhattan’s Chinatown is home to the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere with an estimated population between 90,000 and 100,000 people and is one of  12 Chinatowns in the New York metropolitan area.

Manhattan’s Chinatown borders the Lower East Side to its east, Little Italy to its north, and Tribeca to its west.


The bustling street scene stretches for several blocks with greengrocers and fishmongers  around Mott Street, Mulberry Street, Canal Street and along East Broadway.

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Then there are also lots of shops selling the obligatory good luck charms, paper goods and other colourful items. Naturally I stock up!!

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