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  • Day178

    Hanoi

    October 14, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Back amongst the chaotic Hanoi scenes we ventured into the Old Quarter to partake in the traditional past time of travellers nearing the end of their journey - souvenir shopping. Since beginning our adventure 6 months ago there has been many an occasion when we (usually Kim) have seen something worth buying for ourselves or someone else, only to accept (usually Alex) that it was unrealistic to carry it around for months on end. Whilst we could have posted these items home, they were never found all in one place and the cost to repeatedly send items home was prohibitive. With our bags (mostly Alex) getting lighter as we bail out clothes and other unneeded items for charity, there was plenty of room for what we found in Hanoi.

    Unless shopping in the shiny modern malls like Trang Tien Plaza, haggling for items at the local markets and small street-side stalls is a given. Particularly with sellers highly inflating their prices when tourists approach. However Wu had advised that it was part of local Buddhist custom to not engage in haggling during the morning hours so we were in no rush to head out onto the streets until lunchtime.

    Weaving through a congestion of scooters, fruit sellers and torn up paving, we slipped in and out of shops that sold gifts of fabric, paper, wood and stone. The sight of our Caucasian faces brought the hurried attention of sellers to welcome us inside. We searched specifically for a set of chopsticks as we had become quite skilled in our use of them through South East Asia and thought we might use them again once home.

    Although we had haggled together before, it was still amusing for us and the locals to observe each other's styles. Being compassionate and kind, Kim was more likely to buy if she empathised with the seller, i.e. a young pregnant woman, and would haggle to a point until she felt it might cause offence to stick or go lower on a price. Alex meanwhile was ruthless with a smile.

    Yet if it hadn't been for Kim then we might not have brought anything at all as Alex sought to squeeze the best deal he could out of the Old Quarter. One female seller laughed at our debate with each other and commented in halting English that we were like an old married couple before noting to Kim that Alex was 'good husband' as he got her to eventually agree his price.
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