Forgotten Post: Hanoi here we come . . . .

3 Jan

Another of those posts that didn’t quite make it first time round….

First of all, an apology to my readers – firstly, for the gap in epistles from Asia: it’s been a bit crazy here, and I haven’t been feeling too good (only a cold but still knocked me off song for a couple of days) – and I have been busy busy busy getting China sorted… and on a boat.. but enough of that in a couple of instalments.  And an apology for the paucity of photos from this episode.. photos from the bus are always a bit crap . . . so you’ll have to rely on my descriptions…

So…off on the bus. But wait! We’re stopped. Something’s wrong with the tyre – so we wait until a little shop by the side of the road replaces it. I’m a bit nervous of the aircon too – there’s a very dodgy electrical smell and I swear I saw a flash of a spark.

Charging off up AH1 (the main road between HCMC and Hanoi) and we go past a huge toilet factory (we can tell, the porcelain is outside), with the mountains creating a beautiful backdrop to the industrial town. I scribble notes as I go, which can be a bit illegible on the bus. So it took me several days to work out that ‘total farting’ actually meant ‘toilet factory’.

We go through a tunnel,which opens out to stunning scenery below before  dropping down the other side, round hairpin bends onto an island below before resuming AH1. Suddenly I can’t work out if I am in a Bond movie or a remake of The Italian Job. Hmm…. that didn’t end well for the bus…

I notice there are a lot fewer road signs in Vietnam.. probably a good thing as everyone ignores them.

A brief stop. There’s English football on the TV with a Vietnamese commentary… everyone has their favourite team, and it’s now become a guessing game to see if I can match my answer to ‘where you from…’ to their chosen team. (I never say ‘Northants’ because no-one has ever heard of it. Apart from the occasional German who spent summer in my home town – that co-incidence happens far more often than you might think for a boy brought up in Kettering!) But who on earth CHOOSES to spend summer in Kettering?

We roar past cafes on the side walk, street stalls, hotels that are lit up like Christmas. There are picnic tables in the square, where everyone is eating and drinking. We pass sweepingly beautiful bays…and then the sun sets, and the sky is orange from horizon to horizon, lit up like napalm fire.

And, finally, into Hanoi. We drive round the park, which is already a hive of activity, and people are doing all the things that they usually do at 6:30 on a Sunday morning. There’s a badminton session going on, we have the usual joggers and the slightly less usual ‘walking backward’ brigade. We have the expected tai chi group, and various people who seem to have made their exercise routine up themselves… although if they could get it on the internet they could make a fortune – it’s so bizarre it must work. And then there’s the social dancing. By the lake. On a Sunday morning. And they’re actually very good, and very polite – apart from the setting, it could be a jive venue.

Hanoi (18)

The cafes are buzzing, and there are, I swear, more bikes than there are people. I think Hanoi might be fun!


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