I had been fortunate enough to secure a volunteering position teaching English, in Quang Minh, Me Linh district, Ha Noi, which is approximately 25km from Hanoi City Centre, at the Everest English Centre. (see link below)
I arrived at Noi Ba airport , Hanoi , at the beginning of the second week in December during the Vietnam winter season. My first month here enabled me to wear little more on top than a t-shirt! Unfortunately though , I only saw a blue sky on two occasions in that month. Whether that is purely down to it being winter at the time , or due to pollution , I don't know.
Pollution , sadly , is very high in and around Hanoi. Despite being based some 25km from Hanoi centre the pollution levels are still extremely high. So high , in fact , that I would estimate that more than 90% of the people here wear a face mask as part of their daily life , whether on foot , cycling , on a bus or on a motorcycle.
There is a constant flow of street sellers doing their rounds in the Old Quarter of Hanoi selling fruit , veg , hot /cold street food , keyrings , hats , wallets and much more , including , of course the obligatory face mask.
Whilst walking or sitting outside any one of a number of street food stalls , cafe's, or just browsing shop windows somebody will ask if you want to buy something. Similarly, and seemingly every 10 minutes or so a 'service man' will stop , look at you , point at your feet and say just two words.... "shoe shine?" This is constant , it never ends!
Don't let this put you off visiting Vietnam and don't let in annoy you either , just blank their presence or indulge in a conversation. These sellers are always very pleasant in their efforts to earn some money - and that's all they are trying to do , earn a living. It can become tedious but a simple shake of the head to signal 'no' is usually suffice!
The other sellers , those with wallets, hats , keyrings etc are also very pleasant , except that a 'no' takes longer to get through , for the simple reason they have so much to sell that they probably find it hard to accept / believe that you can't be wanting 'anything' they have to sell - you must want something , surely?
A typical example was when I bought some new trainers (approx £12.00) , and at just one day old I would still attract "shoe shine" , it really is quite relentless.
The other words you are highly likely to hear wherever you travel , by foot , will be "motorbi'!" , meaning 'do you want a motorbike taxi'. This too is a relentless offering!