When the summer heat pervades the capital, lotus flowers make an appearance on the streets on the back of peddlers’ bicycles.
Lotuses usually start to bloom at the end of May and their peak season is June. Dung, a flower seller on Mai Xuan Thuong Street, said: “Lotuses have blossomed well and are so beautiful this year, so a lot of people buy it. On average, I sell 20 bundles a day.”
Another trader said that during the lotus season she often buys 50-100 flowers at the Quang Ba wholesale market, puts them in bundles of 10 and sells around the city at VND50,000 – 60,000 ($2-2.6) each.
Tran Thi Hanh, who lives in Ba Dinh District, said her office loves the flower and bought two bundles after seeing them on Thuy Khue Street.
Streets where lotus delivery sellers abound during the season are Mai Xuan Thuong, Thuy Khue and Ly Nam De.
Unlike other flowers that are sold early in the morning, lotus sellers reach inner city streets after 7:30 am. A seller explained that lotuses are picked at dawn whereas other flowers like daisies and horns are harvested the night before. The bicycle sellers thus have to wait for traders to deliver the flowers from lotus ponds to the Quang Ba flower market.
Besides typical pink, white is also a favorite for many and costs about VND20,000 ($0.86) more than the former. Some associate white with purity.
The hot weather in Hanoi means the peddlers have to constantly sprinkle the flowers with water to keep them fresh through the day.
At the Quang Ba flower market, lotus pistils cost VND20,000 ($0.86) a bundle, and are an ornamental addition to a vase of lotus flowers. The market is located near some of Hanoi’s large lotus ponds from where wholesalers get the flowers.
The lotus flowers sold on Hanoi’s streets mainly come from the West Lake and ponds on Xuan Dinh Street and Gia Lam Ward. Besides selling the flowers, pond owners also earn money by allowing people to take photos. Flowers close to the shore are left unharvested for these customers, while those further afield are picked and sold.
The lotus swamps near the West Lake Water Park are the most popular with Instagrammers. Le Thi Yen Vy of Cau Giay District said she chose this location because of its proximity and the convenience of renting outfits. A ticket to enter a lotus pond costs VND30,000 – 50,000 ($1.3-2) per person, while renting an outfit costs VND100,000 – 120,000 ($4.3-5), depending on the location.
The lotus is closely associated with Vietnamese culture and art, especially Buddhism. It is considered Vietnam‘s national flower and represents purity and dignity. The image of the flower is engraved on several iconic buildings like the One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi. It can also be found on currency bills.