Monday, September 08, 2008

the colourful city-village

This is one installment in what will likely be a multi-post summary of our voyage.

Aug. 9, 2008

Hanoi's Old Quarter is a colourful city-village that teems with a million motor scooters zipping in all directions through roundabouts and seemingly chaotic intersections on streets lined with shop after shop, each topped by narrow faded colonial houses featuring wood shutters and/or laundry hanging on a wrought-iron wrapped balcony.

Seated on tiny wooden stools or brightly-hued mini plastic chairs, Hanoians spend their days on the sidewalks where they share meals, drink coffee, conduct commerce, gossip, play games, and vie for space amongst parked scooters, shop racks, restaurant tables, large trees.

And though the main feature of the Quarter's soundtrack is the constant tooting of car & moto horns, the pace is not actually fast--the short honks are in fact solely polite advisories as motorbikes weave in and around cars, trucks, pedestrians--and moto riders (usually 2-4 per moto) are able to chat with those on other scooters, eat, make cell calls.

Meanwhile, cyclos (pedi-cabs), the occasional tourist pedestrian and vendor women carrying twin baskets dangling at the ends of long poles balanced across their shoulders, negotiate the fringes of the streets, skirting broken gutters, large potholes, garbage, and hopping on and off available bits of sidewalk when need be.

Dive right in, don't be shy.

Today we saw: Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the stunning Temple of Literature
Today we ate: fresh spring rolls among many other things
Today we drank: caffe sua aka Vietnamese coffee with sweet milk, and our first (but far from last) bottle of Dalat wine


Great writing (as usual)! I can picture it in my mind... Awesome photos too!

kyaroru-san, you are so good at taking us on your adventures with you! :D
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