Hanoi, Vietnam Day 2: My head is spinning with everything that took place today! So I don’t forget, I’ll briefly outline our day… 8am wake up to a power drill. 8:30 have breakfast. Caught up with the family and then by 9:30 we were ready to explore the city. The second we walk out the door we were greeted with smiles and overwhelming sights. This place is buzzing and we had no choice but to be swept up in the current of honking vehicles, non-stop traffic and sights and smells I cannot accurately describe. You just have to experience it. After making 4 rights it became apparent that if we actually want to see the city we have to stop being scared and cross the street at some point. There are no stop signs, no traffic lights. You simply have to walk and let traffic swerve around you. A maddening thought but with one foot off the curb I said a prayer and trusted the system. “HOLY SHIT! I’M DOING IT!” I made it to the other side and though it looked like nothing to the outside observer I was taking a victory lap in my brain.
Next stop, Hoan Kiem Lake a peaceful oasis in the middle of Hanoi. We stood in awe of this huge square in front of us, traffic tripled so this was a timelapse jackpot! Before I even mentioned it outloud, Noah had set up the camera and was already 2 minutes into filming it. While we were waiting, I noticed a man slyly taking a photo of Noah, dat beard has been photographed and commented on so much in all 3 countries that it feels like we’re a trio and not just a duo. I smile at the guy and say, “do you want a photo of him?” as if Noah is my show pony. Of course he says “yes” and has Noah squat in the busy street for the best composition possible. Noah said it best, “its an exchange” I’m over here gawking and taking photos of them so it’s only fair that they take photos of me.” I love his positive attitude!
Once the photo was taken, we had to cross this crazy street to get to the lake and I was looking for a local to follow or use as a human shield… enter Man Luu! This adorable boy happened to be standing next to me and I say, “I’m scared, will you help us cross?,” he smiles and says “sure” and together we all make the journey. Safe in the park, we start talking more and we find out that he’s an engineering student in Hanoi and also a math tutor! He was so proud to show us pictures of his students and you can tell he really loves what he’s doing. We had a great walk and conversation and he was so thankful to practice his English (which was great) and we just loved his company and practiced our Vietnamese (which was shitty). After 45 minutes or so, we exchanged info and promised that we’d be each other’s teacher. He my Vietnamese teacher, me his English teacher. Another amazing exchange, and a new friend this time sans beard.
Since we’ve been in Thailand for months, we forget what wind felt like. The wind blew through this peaceful park and we sat on a bench for an hour soaking it all in. It was lovely.
After the long sit we got hungry so we found a little cafe and had an interesting lunch. I had the butter smoothie (tastes how you think it would) with crab soup and Noah had fries. The fries came with red sauce, Yay ketchup! *dip* nope! That is some hotty hot ketchup lookalike sauce! I downed my butter drink to release my mouth from the hot shock.
Ok, so they don’t do ketchup but the fries had no salt so we tried to ask for some and our waitress was totally confused as to why we were jerking off the air and making a salt shaker sound. She walked away and we figured any second we’d get salt… no. She came back with a bowl of soy sauce. Oh communication breakdowns. Just another fun travel adventure I suppose. On the bright side, I found out dipping fries in soy sauce is damn good. Try it!
After lunch we hit another park and met two super cute girls taking photos of each other. I offered to take one of them together and they were so happy and wanted to take one with me too! They took our photo (with her phone) and I asked if I could see it (on her phone) she one upped me by taking my phone and pressing all these buttons and features I didn’t know I had and before I knew it she had all the photos from her phone transfered to mine. I was 3 again and that was some trippy “I got your nose” magic shit. How the hell did she do that!? All I could muster was a smile, said thank you in Vietnamese (badly) and couldn’t wait to see what else was going to happen that day. It was only 2:00.
“Look No, water puppet theatre!” I read about this ancient artform and was so excited to see a performance. Water puppets were used by farmers to entertain themselves when the fields flooded, seems legit to me. There was a live band playing with Vietnamese instruments and I don’t know what it is about the “far east” traditional vocals but its so hypnotic and haunting and my bodys only defense is to get all chicken skin. The puppets were so fun to watch and the visuals combined with the music took you to a different time and place. Only the look of cellphones in the dark room reminded of what century I was in. 10/10 would see it again! After the puppets there was more meandering in the Old Quarter and we let the battery power of our electronics be our guide as to when we should call it a night. There was also a chinese temple sprinkled in there, with Pho and we came across a performance in another temple where people gave US money “lucky money” they said. It was a whirlwind of smiles, sights and sounds. Vietnam has me already, I hope she never lets me go.