You could call the man in the picture below a siesta taker, except for the fact that he’s in Vietnam not in any Spanish-speaking country. Propped up and surrounded by his red drum business, this man was taking it easy on an extremely muggy afternoon–in full view of his storefront. Business must have been slow. (Or maybe his casual appearance slowed down business.)
Hang Trong, Drum Street, represents just one in a tangle of 13th century streets that make up Hanoi’s Old Quarter, otherwise known as “36 Streets”. (Actually, closer to 70 streets pack this square kilometer of the city.) Years ago, different craftsmen came to work at the guilds represented in the different streets. Each street carries the name of the goods that used to be traded there.
The street names today don’t always match the products sold there. But today you can still find silver jewelry on Silver Street (along with a few gravestones, I might add) and silk and other clothing on Hang Gai or Hemp street.
Hang Ma, Paper Street, dances with color. You can find wrapping paper and cake boxes and greeting cards here. Miniature paper replicas of everything from motorcycles to televisions are everywhere, all used as part of ancestor worship.
All along the side streets and street corners shops sell big bowls of steaming pho or vendors sell their wares.
Buying anything or not isn’t really the point. Just taking in the sights, smells, sounds (and an occasional sweet treat from Hang Buom Street) is enough to make you appreciate the oldest corner of Hanoi.