‘Just because something isn’t happening for you right now doesn’t mean that it will never happen.’
This week in Hanoi, Vietnam has been a real treat. We are right in the heart of the old quarter near Hoan Kiem Lake – there’s a great fable about this lake (check out the link.) Each morning they do all sorts of calisthenics around this lake and surrounding streets.
During the day time it’s a city of never-ending noise from Roosters crowing to horns honking – I love it. It has such energy and seems to be always moving – even if crossing the street can feel like mayhem on wheels. There seems to be a gentle understanding of fluidity – horns honk, but there’s no real aggression expressed – not like a New York cabbie! Just a gentle warning and then move on – swim around you. I like it, as there seems to be a good awareness. You can’t become complacent and assume you know what will happen, but need to be flexible to step aside or stop as needs be. It looks and sounds worse than it is. It’s better than in Western driving when you are always second guessing who will ‘run that traffic light’ – here they just do and you just go around it.
We’ve managed to see some of the main tourist sites – Temple of Literature (1,000 years old),
the ‘Maison Centrale’ or ‘Hanoi Hilton’ or Hanoi Prison (interesting political history of Vietnam),
and one-pillar pagoda,
Ethnology Museum (great place for cultural history of Vietnam)
and an example of an old house in the old quarter.
Part of this we did on our own and part was with Hanoikids – a free tour guide run by local students to help them improve their conversational English. Really great opportunity to meet and talk with a local and see places you wouldn’t normally see.
This is the first place we’ve been where theft, haggling and dodging cons is just a part of the tourist life. We’ve had people who try to fix our ‘broken’ shoes to taxis with quickly rising fares. So far, we’ve managed to dodge, but none of it takes away from the wonderous world that is Hanoi! Such a great place to be introduced to. What are some of your nightmare experiences with travel?