May 102006
 

We arrived in Ha Noi around 10 PM last night. Our singing cabbie with a musical horn provided us with an adrenaline filled drive from the airport. Once the traffic opens up, everyone takes the opportunity to drive as fast as they can, regardless of lanes or the potential for smearing the scooter driver beside them into a wall. There is less traffic here than in Saigon, but the drivers seem a bit crazier. Its like a really fun video game, except no one wears helmets or seatbelts in this version. Good times.

One thing you will also be quick to notice in Vietnam – music. They love saccharine love songs, and lots of singing. A good bit of prime time tv here is game shows where the host, contestants, and some random other people all end up singing at some point. But it isn’t just TV, random people through the day will break into song. Maybe it is just all the practice, but I have to say, most of them are pretty good.

Today we wandered around Hanoi’s old quarter maze. Hanoi’s streets used to be arranged by guild – ie metal workers street. These days it isn’t followed as much, but there are still streets where you find a whole lot of one thing. Need to get your grave stone done? I know where to take you.

Hanoi seems more tourist driven than Saigon, but that’s probably just the old quarter. During your walk you have to fend off fruit cyclos, motos, and fruit vendors. The street vendors in Saigon just sort of eyed us over before getting back to work. Here the buggers cross the street to get to you, slap the fruit on your shoulder and say “Picture!” Then try to sell you a couple bananas for some crazy price. You need to keep your sense of humor.

The moto guys always seem to be precariously perched & lounging on their scooter seat when I see them. I aren’t real motivated, the biggest sales pitch I get is a half assed eyebrow nod and a “moto?”. Though some also do the shifty-eye and then say “maruwanna” in a low voice. I always laugh and say no. The cyclos on the other hand, those guys might follow you for a block before jumping on an easier target. They seem to always in a good mood though, so it can be a fun time.

Tomorrow it is off to Halong Bay for some kayaking & lounging on a junk. Back in Hanoi Friday night, then we fly out on Saturday. I wish we had more time…

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