Hanoi is sold on the streets
Hanoi bustles with life. One of the most interesting things you'll see in the Old Quarters are the street peddlers. And these come in a few variety - the ones who sit quite unceremoniously on the five-foot way with their products, the ones who carry their wares in two baskets on a pole and finally, the really... erm... enterprising ones who walk up to you with a handful of stuff.
You can buy just about anything. Zippo lighters. Copies of Lonely Planet Guide to Vietnam or the latest New York Times bestseller. This was very new to me. I have never seen anyone peddling books on the street. Some sold mangoes and bananas. Others peddled meat and veggies. You can also find French loaves - a legacy left behind by the French occupation, no doubt. Cigarettes. Water and soft drinks. Shades. Heck, you can even buy bras and panties off the street peddlers.
There was this old lady who had a bathroom weighing scale. For just a few cents you could check your weight. Then there were the more, "professional" version of the same thing - those scales that also took your height, you know, like the ones you get in shopping centres around Malaysia? Well, theirs came with wheels for them to cart around. Heh.
Whatever you may think of the Vietnamese, you have to admire their entrepreneurial spirit!