HANOI - VIETNAM ...
Hanoi is insane! Cars, scooters and millions of people all vying for the same space. It is also hot and humid only curtailed by another zillion electric fans on the footpaths aimed at where locals virtually live, cook and eat on tiny plastic chairs between the quadzillion scooters perched on the same footpaths. Pedestrians are forced to walk on the road risking ambush by any one of a million teenage Rambos on 50cc scooters of death. Indeed, pedestrian crossings only mean that the petrol driven onslaught may move around you as you cling onto some deity whilst wishing for a slightly longer life.
Chaos worthy of a comic. Yet, it all works amongst the cacophony of horns and overworked horn laryngitis-bleats. Mum, dad and two kids on one scooter blissfully carving through and around buses, trucks and other parents on the school run. These kids will be able to handle anything as they grow up.
Then, add vendors carrying payloads four times bigger than their bike, cyclo men hawking business as they roll by and more traditional shoulder denting double basket women ignoring everyone.
I did say chaos didn’t I!
We didn’t quite figure out what a ‘walking street’ was as they were also full of the above mentioned chaos. Perhaps these streets were labelled as ‘walking’ to concentrate tourists into more targeted strike zones with lots of hole-in-the-wall shops selling everything as well as people on the aforementioned plastic stools drinking indeterminate beverages.
All this capped off by on-display barbecued meats on street side trolleys one of which was piled with preroasted dogs. Yes, what seemed incredibly like a bunch of Fidos; head, teeth and all.
Taxi’s are an oasis of semi-calm as long as you keep your eyes closed whilst a ride with a cyclo man can be a life changing experience. Semi-reclining whilst looking at traffic between your toes having completely surrendered life and limb to a stranger pushing you-first into the chaos. He knows who will get smacked first!
Repairing to any air conditioned space with a sound proof door is cathartic and indeed critical for brain-load survival. The concierge saying hello whilst he opens the door is therapeutic only bettered by the door closing behind you.
Yet right in the middle of chaotic dysfunction we have a university which has focussed on literature for around a thousand years. How cool is that!
For a Melbourne bloke Hanoi is gob smacking and quite an experience. Every facet is different and challenging but isn’t that what makes a good holiday?