Two tiny hobbies

Bonsai in Hanoi

The art of bonsai is often associated with Japan, but it’s taken on quite a following across Vietnam. Known as hon nam bo, living miniature landscapes that often imitate the scenery of islands and mountains are a Vietnamese cultural treasure. Check out the promenade of trees that line the entrance to Thang Long Imperial Citadel, or the displays outside the many shops along Hoang Hoa Tham, often referred to as Bonsai Street. For a quick day trip, venture out to nearby Vi Khe Bonsai Village, the heart of Hanoi’s bonsai industry.


Pit carving in Shanghai

Zhoushan village, just west of Shanghai, is a haven for the ancient Chinese art of pit carving. Using the tiny pits from the humble ganlan olive, thousands of craftspeople create miniature works of art featuring animals, bits of poetry, landscapes, religious iconography and beloved images from folk tales. While any fruit with a stone-type seed can be used (apricots, peaches, Chinese bayberry and so on), olives are especially popular around nearby Suzhou, and painstakingly carved pits strung together on necklaces and prayer beads make unique keepsakes.

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