I‘ve regained my faculties somewhat. I went out for a brief look around again today. I chatted with a guy who has been touring around Southeast Asia for a year and a half. He says he’s never felt heat like this before. You do get used to it though. I’ve learned to avoid dogs here. All dogs. It takes a while to get used to there being so many zeros in the currency. I haggled with one sidewalk vendor woman over what I realized after was 30 cents then gave way too big a tip on a lunch I had. I seem to have a better sense of it now. I wandered through a very ornate temple for a while. There were guys working on the concrete around the facility. They all sat down on their break to enjoy a tobacco bong. The pipes look similar to what you would expect people to smoke opium or something with, but they’re taking a huge hit of tobacco. They all seem pretty spaced out for a bit after it kicks in.
I can’t wait to get my first visual on a Vietnam beach.
Very low key day today. I had a pretty good dose of heat stroke. That and the jet lag reminded me a great deal of my Tequila days. I spent a few hours in the lobby where I’m staying, reading and slipping in and out of things while the women employed here nitter nattered in Vietnamese around me. They seemed equally amused and concerned at my condition. Things have improved.
A pretty intense storm came through this afternoon. The drivers didn’t seem to notice. There were some interesting bits of humanity displayed as people responded to the downpour. As soon as I’m fully recovered and conditioned to this time zone I plan to make my way east to the coast. Should be in a few days or so. Meanwhile I’ll explore Hanoi a little more. There are some very incredible visuals I’ll post when I’m not half catatonic.
Second day in this incredible city. I spent part of the day exploring again. The heat here is a factor. You have to take it easy until you get used to it. Don’t let the apparent poverty in some of these photos give you the wrong impression. I had to stop myself from going into a number of Mac Computer stores. ‘Don’t… need… any… more… Mac… products.’ I came close to getting clipped by a few brand new Benz’s as well. I’ve witnessed an almost worshipful attitude towards elders amongst the people who work in the hostel where I am staying. The way they treat an elderly woman who I assume lives somewhere in the facility goes way beyond respect. Old Granny sauntered out in her silk jammies early this morning and hopped on the back of a moped. I saw them helping her back in later in the day.
While wandering around hopelessly lost this evening I walked by a military academy. There were a bunch of guys doing martial arts training behind a fence. Very quick moves, whatever they were doing. A little further on there was a nice fellow with what looked like an AK-47 slung over one shoulder. He was guarding one of the entryways to the facility. A vehicle pulled up and stopped right at the front gate. The fellow with the gun started to blow his whistle and walk towards the stopped SUV. I walked in between the two parties just as this was happening. Vietnam has banned Facebook by the way. My sense is you don’t mess with the state in a country that does that. The truck drove on and AK-47 guy walked back to his post shortly after I passed by. If budget travel in Vietnam is your priority then Hanoi might not be the best bet. The city is more expensive than almost anywhere else in the country.
My first day in Hanoi, Vietnam is winding down. It has been a while since I enjoyed any international travel. I wandered around this incredibly busy city for a few hours earlier. Traffic here is otherworldly. I read that you’re not supposed to bolt out into the street while attempting to cross. You slowly wade into the fray so the mopeds and cars all have the time to veer one way or the other to get around you. It takes some concentration to slowly wade out into a mass of non-stop traffic, knowing nobody is going to actually stop but will hopefully at least slow down and avoid you. There was what I assumed was a funeral taking place at one point. Soulful, sad music was played by a small band as the procession followed the hearse slowly up the road. Mourners wear white bands around their heads. Took these photos and the video of the traffic.
Hanoi, Vietnam Traffic Video: