Monday, February 2, 2015

Wandering Around Hanoi

Today was our third day of wandering around Old Town Hanoi, Vietnam. This place is a maze of streets teaming with people, motorcycles, cars honking horns, bicycles, and carts. There is a very active street life, with lots happing on the sidewalks, which are for everything—cafes, restaurants, motorcycle parking, cooking—but walking. People walk on the street, life happens on the sidewalks. There are very few traffic signal lights or stop signs in the old part of town. Drivers and pedestrians simply flow into the intersections and bulldoze there way through it. It sounds dangerous, but it seems to work. We’ve only seen one accident so far. On the other hand, we’ve almost been run over a dozen or more times.

We were here seven year ago. In that time, we noticed that outside the city things seem much more prosperous. Inside the city, things seem unchanged. One thing I have noticed. The first few times we were here, there were many American tourists and few European tourists, unlike Thailand where there were few Americans and many Europeans. Now, the Americans were in Thailand and Europeans are here in Hanoi.

I’m loving the street life. It is so interesting. It takes a great deal of energy to deal with it all. I seem bombarded from all directions the whole time we’re out and about. It’s an assault on all the senses. It is draining.

We are here in Hanoi only one more full day. On Tuesday morning we drive up to Halong Bay. We’ll cruse on the bay overnight and then come back to Hanoi on Wednesday, and then leave for Ho Chi Min City on Thursday morning. I think the timing is good. Much as I enjoy the street life here, this is not a city I need to spend a lot of time in.

The shining star of this city is the food. There are great hole-in-the-wall restaurants everywhere. The local food is so different from the Vietnamese restaurants back home. It’s much better here. The Pho, Bun, Baggett sandwiches, five-spiced chicken, it’s all so great here. We’ve had one delightful meal after another.

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