We live in the middle of the tourist area, the old quarter. Stepping out from our house are all kind of souvenir shops. From wooden bowls, paintings, clothing shop, lanterns ... all the typical tourist souvenirs. One of the nice thing to live in a tourist area is no one will point their finger at you and giggle just because you are a foreigner.
Here, dealing (and bargaining) with foreigner is their everyday meal, it minimize my use of hand signal but not without a price. We mostly end up paying a bit more, thanks to my poor ability in speaking numbers in vietnamese. I found it necessary to master the very-very basic of shopping vocabulary :
how much? - bao nhiêu?
numbers! 1-10 and 10.000 - 100.000
The rest? Hand signal ... no fuss
Hanoi is a place where you can shop for the house. Nicely painted wooden bowls starts from 1USD and the big one is about 3USD. Hmm, still hard to estimate the price? here's an easy way to get a grip of the price, 1 pack of Marlboro cigarette cost 15000VND, that's less than 1USD.
Sending stuff from Vietnam (not just Hanoi) is pretty easy. The cheapest is to send it with the 3 months shipping, it might take a bit long but imagine being back home with lots of package arriving, it's gonna be your own personal christmas day. My friend send back his 20kg stuff with the 3 moths shipping to UK for 60USD, the trick is to pack it in 1 huge box and send it to yourself to avoid higher charges and tax.