I really liked Hanoi – it was just the right mix of crazy and busy and so much to see. The food was unreal, particularly the street food scene. I felt that the people were more wary of foreigners in Hanoi than they were in Hoi An and Saigon, but that’s ok; they were still very friendly and as helpful as they could be with the language barrier. It’s hard to explain the streets of Hanoi… I guess chaotic, but also charming, in their own ways. I’d go back tomorrow, without question, there’s still so much I didn’t get to see..
This is definitely one of the cooler markets I’ve been to. I’d read a little bit about it online when I Googled “night markets in Ho Chi Minh City,” learning that there was a day market there, housed in sheds and mostly undercover, but it really came into its own at night. The regular market shuts down at around 6pm, and then the mayhem begins, which we learnt the hard way.
Sib and I left our hotel room at around 5.30pm, ready to eat our weight in street food (we’d heard it was pretty good there). We figured if the market started up around 6.30pm, we’d have an hour to find our way (without a map, relying solely on the lovely doorman’s instructions, vaguely pointed to us from the hotel lobby) and dawdle a little in the process. When we arrived, we found the day time market still open, so we took a quick wander around, stopping to purchase some green tea.
We became suddenly very aware of the fact that all of the stalls seems to be packing up at once, quite abruptly, and we were clumsy nuisances tripping over semi-collapsed trestle tables and garbage bags; we stumbled back out to the street, surveying our options. We decided to take a walk around the outside of the market to see if we could work out where this night market would be set up. What happened next was without a doubt one of the most comical, peculiar, preposterous thing I think I’ve ever seen. We looked up the street and saw a line of men and women running tents and pergolas down the street, in amongst the traffic!
As we watched on, we witnessed the set up of the night market; it was mental. Complete madness. I don’t know how else to describe it. One moment, the area was empty, a few minutes later, the marquees we’d seen being wheeled down the street at breakneck speed were up, being wired with lighting and cooking stations were being fired up. A few minutes later, hand bags and watches were starting to come out of large sacks, being carefully laid out. We were stunned. We’d never seen anything like it! We decided to go grab a cold drink at a café and wait another 30 minutes or so to give the market a chance to set up properly.
When we returned, it was ready. I really couldn’t believe the speed and efficiency with which it was all done – if I hadn’t seen it myself, I’d have never believed it. The market itself was pretty good – small, lots of stuff to appeal to tourists, handicrafts, clothing, designer knock offs and what not. But it was the food that was the best.
We stopped at what seemed to be the world’s most fabulous pop-up restaurant, a well oiled machine commandeered by the calmest kitchen crew I’ve ever seen, not the least bit phased by the ridiculous crown already lining up to be seated, and waiters dressed in smart waist coats.
We went with our favourite Vietnamese dish for dinner – bun cha. I had the roast pork. It was perfect.
We weren’t planning on dessert, but when we saw this cart with 6 different types of sticky rice, we changed our minds and took home a little polystyrene tub with a small scoop of each to share, smothered in coconut milk. Just wow.
The Gertrude Street Projection Festival
Until July 27th, 6pm – midnight
When I found out my favourite part of Melbourne was hosting (for its 7th year) the city’s biggest free, incredibly visible arts festival this weekend, I got excited. Any excuse to spend the night in Fitzroy.
You can find a lot more information on their website, but in a nutshell, the Gertrude Street Projection Festival is all about projecting the work of local artists (both still and moving work) on the laneways, shop fronts, buildings and even tree trunks on and around Gertrude Street.
It’s also important, I think, to note that the Gertrude Association that have pulled this together are a non-profit, volunteer run group. They do some wonderful things, so again, check out the website.
This place is truly, genuinely beautiful – I can’t think of a single other word for it. Everything is picture perfect; it’s old and run down in that “only in a movie” way, the way you’d imagine it’d be while reading an old book about the Vietnam war. It’s colourful, truly foreign (no one really speak English, so bad luck if you get lost and need directions!), and just perfect.
I can’t say it enough – Fitzroy has my heart ♥
If you’re playing along at home, you may remember some photos I’ve taken before and food I’ve eaten there. Truth is, no amount of photographs or writing will do it justice It’s not just a suburb or physical location, it’s a state of mind. It’s foreign and exotic and home all in one. Anyway, I was out there again yesterday with my actual camera (not just my iPhone) for another project I’m working on (stay tuned), and took these gorgeous snaps… enjoy!
You’re not gonna find many girls more in love with their cities (except maybe Ms Carrie Bradshaw and her lover, New York) than me. I’m a huge advocate for living in Melbourne, despite our woeful public transport and ridiculously high cost of living; it hasn’t had the honour of world’s most livable city bestowed upon it for nothing!
But what I love the most, is the Fitzroy/Collingwood/Smith St/Brunswick St area. It’s a place where there are no norms and no rules. It’s now inhabited by a lot of hipsters, but that’s ok. You can understand why, with the insane amount of cool new restaurants and bars opening on what feels like a weekly basis, endless second hand, vintage and pre-loved books, clothes, jewellery and all the rest of it on every second corner, great beer gardens, and all manner of people strolling around. Young hipsters, older couples, families with young kids, try-hard cool teens, crazy cat ladies, ranting hobos, camera-clad tourists and people like me harmoniously share the footpaths and cafes without a second thought.
It’s the kind of are where you can wear whatever you want, be any body shape, listen to any music, and read any book you want out the front of any establishment without fear of being judged. It’s an area where it’s cool not to be cool. And in a society where we, particularly young women, feel like their every breath and movement is being judged against impossible standards, it’s something special. It’s my happy place, my safe space, the area I feel most at home. It’s dynamic and ever changing, yet it always comfortable and familiar. It’s kind of like wearing your favourite, old pair of shoes with a new outfit every time.
Anyway, I recently got onto the VSCO Cam bandwagon, and I took these snaps over the weekend while I was out strolling the streets with the husband… welcome to my favourite place in the world!