The Banana Women of Hanoi

You see quite a few women in the Ancient Quarter market carrying fresh produce in two flat baskets suspended from a bamboo shoulder pole sectioned lengthwise. They always carry some Vietnamese bananas, which are shorter than the Central American ones. I have the sense that they supply their clientele in the mornings and then freelance with tourists  in the afternoons.

These are tough women physically and mentally. If one sets her Nón lá on you, it’s only aP1000880 question of how many bananas you will be purchasing, and at what price. The first one who approached me ended up with a US dollar and I with the most expensive banana ever sold in Southeast Asia. When I reached for my banana she smacked my hand away and broke off a different one, turning the encounter into a contact sport that she completely dominated.

The next day as I was trying to take a video of the young tap dancers this woman saw her mark. You can hear her badgering me in the video.  I had two bananas for breakfast and didn’t want a third. A couple of older Vietnamese stood just off to the side enjoying the game. The woman decided that if I didn’t want a banana, she would sell me a photo, and I finally agreed. We haggled over the price – I can’t recall what was agreed to and it didn’t matter anyway as she would have all the money that came out of my pocket, she doesn’t do “change.” I enjoy a good salesperson and she had me and the spectators laughing as I got this picture. (In the background you can see another of the wedding couples at the fountain). Then she mimed that she would use my camera to take a photo of me, but I said I couldn’t afford it.

About Saint Expedite

Retired early, then took a trip across the Pacific from Seattle by container ship. From China I stopped in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Holland, Denmark, England and Ireland before heading home to Puget Sound. This blog is an account of my travels. Write to me at
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4 Responses to The Banana Women of Hanoi

  1. Herb Jepko says:

    Good piece on the banana women, Ken. Lots of fun. “Most expensive banana ever sold in Southeast Asia.” Sheesh.

  2. wSeasis says:

    Is the video you took accessible somewhere that I’m not aware of? I really need to hear you being badgered.

  3. Brooke says:

    I so enjoy reading your stories. That picture is priceless…well I guess it did have a price, so maybe I should say the story is priceless.

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