The theme letter for our travel pics this week is V, for Vietnam.
Hanoi is a huge sprawling metropolis with nearly 8 million residents in its greater urban area, and a history that dates back five thousand years – the first human settlement in the area coming around 3000 BC
The centre of what would become HaNoi (or ‘inside the river’) would shift around a number of times – but the city as we know it today was established in 1010.
For most its history Hanoi has been either the capital, or the most significant political centre of Vietnam – and it remains the country’s second largest city.
Many of its streets are dedicated to specific trades – for example goldsmiths might line a block, with every store-front belonging to a separate smithy … or ‘bag street’, where each shop sells bags – and nothing but bags.
The streets around this corner sold clothing and material (to the right), local food stalls and tourist services like day-trips to the left. The first hotel we stayed in in Hanoi was in ‘Shoe Street’.
And there were motorbikes EVERYWHERE. Not just on the roads – but parked on the footpath, inside the shops, jammed next to the cooking pots … I was told that there were actually 5 million motorbikes in Hanoi – that’s one bike for every 1.75 people. But latest figures from the MOT suggest that the number’s climbed to seven million – or one scooter for every man, woman and child in the Greater Hanoi region.