Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hanoi-The red river city

Women in Hanoi, originally uploaded by kathrynparry41.

I arrived safe and sound in Hanoi last night and was struck by the peacefulness of the airport, you could hear my foot steps staccato on the marble tiles.

I was picked up at the airport by Ngoc a young karaoke loving driver, he sung Vietnamese songs all the way to the hotel and spoke of his dream to speak English better so he can sing more American pop songs. Ngoc told me that Hanoi literally means city inside a river which is a direct translation from Chinese.

I was amazed in the car watching so many motor cycles go past carrying 1, 2 and 3 passengers, I have since scene them carrying up to 4 people, a ladder, all types of foodstuffs, babies and livestock.

The hotel in my humble opinion is the best value in the city, I have my own; room; bathroom (with hot water); TV (with BBC) and; AC, all for the bargain price of $8 US a night.

Last night I went out for a walk around the city and was absorbed by the entire goings on in the street, people sitting and cooking, eating, making things, talking, smoking all to the sound of the millions of horns honking in unison.

Stepping out from the hotel felt incredibly risky, there seems to be NO road rules at all, traffic lights appear to be for show only and pedestrian crossings whilst they exist don't seem to mean anything. At first I crossed the road staying as close to a Vietnamese person as possible, now I feel more adventurous and cross at my leisure and enjoy the adrenalin that pumps through my veins when I do. There are no footpaths to speak of, so are always walking a very fine line.

The tempetreture is hot but compared to Bangkok it is mild- although I seem to be permanently covered in sweat, it feels like a balmy 30 with 100% humidity.

I have fallen prey to a few scammers and I have only been here 1 day. At first I was incredibly angry at my own stupidity and was ripped off about 3 US dollars by a motto taxi and I was ripped off 30 cents by someone who made me a sandwich on week old bread. Now I realize that I should be thankful I am only out of pocket 4 dollars.

I still have not learnt the art of bargaining. I feel terrible when I seem to be surrounded by so much poverty. As my trip continues and my bank balance decreases perhaps I will become more vocal and utilise my negotiation training that my legal training equipped me with.

My flu like symptoms seems to be persisting and even though it is only 12 noon here now I am going to have a siesta after a 5 hour walk around the city. It really is a labyrinth like no other, the streets are dedicated to common wares, there is a backpack street, wedding street, funeral street, mirror street, bamboo street, metal working street, lantern street, teddy bear street and card street etc

I met a boy called Hue by the Hoan KiemoaHo Hoa Lake this morning who wanted to practice his English with me. He was very cute and had a list of 20 questions written out, ‘what country are you from?’, ‘Do you like TV?’, ‘Do you want a big house or lots of money?’.

I have not been able to work out the translation for lawyer here so instead I have said I am like a police man at home, both Hue and Ngoc were impressed and said they were scarred I would use my kung fu on them. Which is an added protection when you are a single girl on the move.

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