The sun was shining brightly on the morning of our second day in Hanoi with the trees lining the boulevard casting dappled shadows on the crumbling colonial architecture.
Making our way back to the Old Quarter, we passed St. Joseph’s Cathedral again where two men were dangling precariously on ropes cleaning the windows.
We stopped for breakfast at a street banh mi vendor where we ate sitting on miniature plastic stools, watching the city wake up around us.
Thankfully, writhing larvae were not on the menu.
Walking north, we explored more of the maze-like backstreets, crisscrossed and connected above by looms of cables, the central nervous system of the city.
Market stalls were abundant with fresh slabs meat laid out on wooden tables beside baskets of fish, large bundles of vegetables, and old ladies shelling live crabs before grinding them into a paste.
Following our noses, we stopped for a bowl of Bun Bo; grilled beef with vermicelli noodles, vegetables, fried onion, roasted peanuts and bean sprouts served with a spicy sauce and fresh limes. Delectably good.
Just a man feeding worms to his pet lizards.
Some of the quieter alleys were particularly beautiful, with hanging plants and small trees creating hidden oases.
Behind Dong Xuan Market we came across a road lined by fruit sellers huddled beneath large umbrellas, their brightly coloured wares displayed in wicker baskets lined with green leaves.
Long Biên Bridge, built by the French in 1899 was the first steel bridge to cross Hanoi’s Red River and was one of the longest in Asia at the time.
Today it’s rather rusty and dilapidated but can still be crossed by foot if you dare. We went half way across before turning back. Luckily we didn’t spot the grisly display of traffic accident photos at the local police station beforehand.
On our way back to Hoan Kiem Lake we passed through a street full of rice vendors and brightly coloured dyes. Despite having lived in Asia for over 10 years I still don’t know the difference between different types of rice.
A funeral procession passing through the streets.
At sunset, we took another walk around the lake, on the lookout for giant turtles!