Hello Hanoi!

Again! Back in the bustling chaos that is Hanoi. Bleary eyed after rolling off the night train at 6am and unable to check into our hotel until 3pm!!!

So we while away a few early morning hours people watching. And Hanoi is very very full of people!

Whether they are wheeling their fresh produce along the street or making a scented spectacle.

Hanoi is a heady mix of modern and deeply traditional. Rich and incredibly poor. Old ways still pervade in a city swathed in pollution from a million mopeds.

We stumble across this group of energetic young dancers practising their routines.

This seems to be a favourite past time for young Vietnamese as you’ll see lots of groups of teens dancing or improvising on the street.

Then finally we can check into our final hotel of the journey, the glorious The Light Hotel.

One of the few hotels in Hanoi that can boast of a (very vertiginous) rooftop pool!

A perfect place to cool down and relax after humid, gritty days sight seeing in the busy city. Up here you could be a million miles away from the grimy chaos below!!

Street scenes

You could spend years just roaming the back streets of the old quarter in Hanoi and never get bored of the amazing sights.

From gorgeous bouquets to a caffine addict’s dream, fresh street food to all manner of dried meats, herbs and other delights.

My love of markets has gone into overdrive and I am in seventh heaven. . . .

I could have spent years just on this one street, enjoying the rainbow of lanterns and the ladies in their traditional conical hats.

Below the hubby is instructed to look natural as I attempt to stalk one of the surprisingly nifty older ladies who hoick around woven baskets of produce.

Everything in Hanoi is done in the street, socialising, selling, prepping fresh meat and eating too.

I was spoilt for choice when it came to souvenirs on this trip! Shame I couldn’t take all of those jewel bright lanterns home!

We stumble upon a group of conical hatted ladies. I am not sure what the pural of street vendors should be!

Markets in Hanoi, as in the rest of the country, are very visceral. With meat butchered literally on the floor in some cases. While fresh food is cheek by jowel with pollution spewing mopeds and open drains.

Dong Xuan Market is the busiest and most popular of the markets in the city.

Established in 1889, Dong Xuan Market is housed within a four-storey Soviet-style building on the northern edge of Hanoi Old Quarter.

You can buy pretty much anything here and it will be the subject of several posts!

But for now take a walk with us through the tiny alleyways of the market! Careful where you walk!

China town

Singapore’s Chinatown is known as Niu che shui which literally means ‘ox car water’

This is due to the fact that Chinatown’s water supply was principally transported by animal-driven carts in the 19th century.

We’ve entered Chinatown via Pagoda street, a hectic, shop and restaurant lined thoroughfare.

Pagoda street takes its name from the┬áSri Mariamman Temple that we’ll visit later. During the 1850s and 1880s, the street was one of the centres of slave traffic

Now however it’s a place to browse for souvenirs, eat and hunt for wall art.

By the 1950s, the shophouses here were mainly involved in retail trade and services.

The architecture of the shophouses on Pagoda Street and other parts of Chinatown originates from the Raffles Town Plan of 1822.

This stipulated the material that should be used to build the shophouses as well as the need to have covered walkways of five-foot width (hence known as “five-foot ways”.

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.