Hanoi is brilliant place to start my Southeast Asian adventure.
Hanoi is a city of narrow alley streets, 5 million motorbikes, women in rice hats, Vietnamese iced-coffee, mini plastic stools diners, telephone poles that look anaconda’s nests of wires, photocopied books, men taking bamboo bong hits of tobacco, $0.75 beer with ice cubes, little kids screaming “HELLO!”, medical face masks for air pollution, beef noodle soup, shrimp head pastries, temples dedicated to turtles & swords, Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, tailored clothing and (BREATHE)… more motorbikes.
It is everything I imagined it to be and so much more.
Crossing the street is thrilling and therefor equally terrifying. The only way to cross the raging river of bikes is to GO for it. Take the leap of faith off the curb and walk straight across while looking towards your impending success/doom. If that methods fails, flanking the giggling locals is always a good idea.
Personally, my preferred method is grabbing my friend Betsy’s hand and screaming like a little girl on her first roller-coaster ride as we run across. No one, and I mean no one, seems to notice or think this is odd (but maybe they can’t hear us over the beep-beeps of the scooter horns).
3 days here, and then it’s off to the limestone islands of Halong Bay and the rice patties of Sapa.