Woman with Scarf and Gloves

H'mong Hill Tribe Children


You can't walk down the street in Hanoi or Saigon without someone walking up to you selling books, postcards, hammocks, etc.  I would hear, "Madame motorbike"? they think all foreigners are French 50 to 100 times a day.  Motorbike taxis are everywhere.

In Hanoi I spoiled myself with a massage at the ritzy hotel and two ice creams a day; one at the local joint young sticky rice flavor, then one at a French place similar to gelato. 

It rained heavy in Hanoi when I first arrived and the streets flooded above the knee.  A few brave soles strolled out into it.  Some of the guest houses and shops brought their motorbikes inside.  A van, which is rare, motorbikes are the main transport, came ripping down the street causing a wake that sent the water into my hotel lobby and knocked over several motorbikes in the street.

The majority of the local women wear long dress gloves and scarfs on the street to protect their skin from the sun and elements.  They also have several whitening creams in the store and barely any sunscreen.  Most of the women have lighter skin than mine.

Using the Lonely Planet book as my guide, I strolled through the streets of Hanoi on a walking tour.  All of my senses were hit.  The best was the herb and spices street which had a lovely scent.  Hearing the blacksmiths pounding away on metal was also cool.  The girls would go nuts on the shoe street, which I like to call shoe city.  There are racks and racks of shoes on the street.  I've never seen so many in one place.

I also saw Uncle Ho Ho Chi Minh founder of Vietnamese Communist party and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (1946 - 1969) in the flesh.  His body is embalmed in a glass case.

From Hanoi I went north to Sapa.  I had my first look at the H'mong hill tribe people on the train.  The women look tough, yet feminine in their indigo dyed hemp dresses.  They accessorize with bright embroidery, huge hoop earrings, calf leggings, and different hats depending on what tribe they belong to.  Their knees are showing, which is unusual for South-East Asia.

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