In almost each and every nook and cranny around Hà Nội, you’ll find a little secret.
Exploring the ins and outs of the capital on foot is the best way to find hidden gems.
Lane No 456 Hoàng Hoa Thám Street is a highly recommended destination for a Saturday morning.
You’ll find dozens of stalls offering many trinkets like old stamps, ancient coins and items from the war.
Hundreds of people, both locals and tourists, flock here on Saturday mornings. Many seek to buy things while others just look around, chat and enjoy the fun.
Nguyễn Minh Đại Dương has been selling things relating the war here for two years. Medals, caps and uniforms are among his goods. Dương used to be a member of the police so he likes collecting things related to the armed forces.
“Each person coming here has a different interest,” he said. “Some come here to search for things from the old days. I first collected these things and brought them here to share and exchange with others. Basically, I sell things here for fun.”
He said his goods had been collected from antique markets or private collectors. Some were sold by families when they cleared their houses. Gradually, he built up a collection and shared it with people here.
Dương works as a teacher of English during the week.
|Nguyễn Minh Đại Dương's collection of war objects often gathers many customers. — VNS Photo Lê Hương|
“After a working week, I come here every Saturday morning,” he said. “It’s quite fun.”
Retired soldier Ngô Thế Cường also said he came here every Saturday morning to exchange and find happiness.
“I collect old items from Europe like clocks, which have been made for a long time. I share my collection here so that people can see my hobby as well. I like collecting things.
"I have my pension. I come here to have fun and of course, make some profit.”
His relatives, who live in Europe, sent these old things from Europe to him.
“I collect them as a hobby and sell many at the same time,” he said.
Many customers come here not only to buy things but simply to enjoy the friendly atmosphere.
Student Nguyễn Linh Chi came here for the first time seeking some bracelets.
|The market attracts people of various ages. — VNS Photo Lê Hương|
"There are many kinds with various colours,” she said. “I asked the sellers and they said the bracelets were from all over the world. I hope to find things I like.”
She said the price depends on the condition of the goods. Some new ones are more expensive.
“The atmosphere here is bustling and although this is my first time here, I like it,” she said.
Chi said the goods here were from many places in the world so they were diverse in style.
“I hope I can find something; it doesn’t need to be new,” she said. “It can be used by someone, but it still has some value.”
Middle-aged man Lê Hùng came along with a friend.
“The atmosphere is fantastic, especially in the autumn weather,” he said. “It’s even better to be here in autumn. Summer will be hotter.”
|Ngô Thế Cường (right) introduces his goods to a customer. — VNS Photo Lê Hương|
Hùng said the market sells old things so it will suit people seeking such things, not those who want to buy new things.
“There are even antiques and fake antiques,” he said. “I especially like watches. I spend a lot of time looking at old watches here. Prices range depending on the goods. It’s difficult to say if they are cheap or expensive. In general, it’s interesting.”
Hùng said not only women but also men like shopping.
“If we have a chance to come to such a market at the weekend, which is neither too large nor too crowded, is quite interesting. I found a European man selling things here. It’s quite fun,” he said.
Hùng affirmed the market is an interesting cultural feature.
“Though it is not officially recognised by the authorities, it’s a place for people who want to exchange old things,” he noted.
South Korean Ye Jun Lee loves stamps. He spent much time at a stamp and coin stall.
“I can find unique old stamps here that I cannot find anywhere else,” he said. “I have heard about this market for a long time and now I have a chance to visit. I think besides modern supermarkets, such a flea market offering old things is necessary. I like it as I like collecting old things, especially stamps.”
If you fancy some bargain hunting in a great atmosphere, then make sure you drop by. — VNS