Old Quarter Hanoi was filled with many little shops. As we explored the area on foot, we mostly wanted to just window shop, though if we could find it, there was one item that Kristi wanted to get for her mom: wooden sandals. Kristi’s mom purchased wooden sandals during her trip to Vietnam a couple of years before, and while the sandals were comfortable to wear at home, it was worn out and she would like to get a new one. But she bought the pair at a local store in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), so she said if we could find a store somewhere in Hanoi that sell something similar and the price seemed reasonable, she would like Kristi to bring her a pair as a souvenir from our trip.
We did see some stalls at the night market that had shoes and sandals on display, but none looked like what Kristi’s mom was looking for, and the price seemed to be inflated at the night market given the traffic going through the stalls. We continued on our walk until we came across a street called Hang Giay that seemed to be the area in the Old Quarter filled with stores selling shoes and sandals. This was how the Old Quarter neighborhood was arranged; a street would be named based on the item sold on that street, so it’s like going to a particular aisle at a department store.
We went to several stores to look for the wooden sandals that Kristi thought her mom would like. We found them in some of the stores, so next was the bargaining part. Since there were several stores that had similar items, we had a little more lever in bargaining. Kristi finally was able to get an agreement with a store owner on the price for the wooden sandals. Then the store owner went inside her store to get the equipment to put the straps on the wooden sandals that Kristi selected.
So there it was, our experience shopping for a day-to-day item in the Old Quarter Hanoi. Not much different than what we would do shopping in a city like Jakarta, but doing it in a foreign country with potentially different cultural norm and having language barrier I suppose added some excitement to the normally mundane activity.
I took the photo below as we waited for the shopkeeper to finish putting the straps on the wooden sandals after we agreed on the price to purchase the pair. Kristi waited with the cash on her hands to pay once the wooden sandals were ready.