For a revised version of this post, go here.
Sept 21st, 2009 - Sadly, I still have yet to visit one tourist site in Hanoi. I have been trying to finagle all the necessary items and loose ends for a motorcycle trip north. My attempt at getting a larger motorcycle for me and my soon-to-be-arriving cohort has met with failure. All booked up. So I am forced to tear up ‘Nam in a Yamaha 125cc megahog. It is a bit small but I think it will suffice although my lower back may decide to revolt. My only real concern is that two people, our stuff , and a bit of elevation may impede our cruising speed just a tad.
As I was walking the streets of the old quarter I was approached by a young Vietnamese woman with a desire to practice English. She asked how long I would be in Hanoi. When I told her it was only for a short time and said I was staying in a hotel she asked me the name of the hotel. Hmmmmmm. I was stricken with a sudden bout of amnesia and merely pointed in a direction and grunted. She asked if I spoke Vietnamese to which I replied in the negative. She thanked me and said goodbye. I then witnessed her jumping on the back of a motorbike with a man old enough to be her father and speeding away. I suppose it could have been a concerned dad doing what he can to improve his daughter’s language skills thereby giving her an edge on life but my cynical side tells me otherwise. I may have encountered my first scooter ho. I could be wrong. I hope I am.
I hate to admit it but the local folks I have encountered thus far in the Old Quarter of Hanoi have not been a jolly bunch. There are exceptions of course but for the most part many Hanoians I have met possess a less than pleasant disposition. Granted, most of these people are tied to tourism in one way or another so don’t think for a moment I am making a blanket generalization. Still, I sincerely hope that the people here are a hell of a lot happier than they look.
A woman at the market actually shooed me away when I paused to ogle a bowl full of live eels. Pardon me. It is not something I see every day. On that note I also saw a woman with a headless turtle squeezing blood from the neck into a plastic bottle. Yummy. And then there were the live puppies I could hear barking incessantly. This is not a pet market. Nuff said.
The first couple of days I found the traffic situation amusing in an idiosyncratic ‘what the hell is wrong with you crazy f%#$ers!’ kind of way. Now I just want to form my own Traffic Gestapo and subject random vehicle operators to intense and rigorous interrogation –
Why would you drive through a busy intersection with one hand on the handle bars and the other texting…..texting whoever the hell it is you’re texting? Are you really that f***ing important? ARE YOU???!!!!! Do you find it easier to drive without looking ahead? DO YOU????!!! Do you find gratuitous use of your horn as some sort of perverted panacea for all your inadequacies? DO YOU???!!! Do you really think that wearing a toy soldier helmet with a chin strap is going to do jack didley shit for the safety of your melon? DO YOU???!!!
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'Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference.' -- Libbie Fudim