Alright, I sent you guys two updates from my teeny-tiny keyboarded Blackberry last week. It has since then died – rest in peace, but I am not going to miss you! Why I am not missing a BlackBerry could be an entire blog – no not just a post, but an entire blog – in itself. But we are not going to write about BlackBerries, we are writing about Vietnam. I admit, Vietnam was not on my radar at all. Barbara made me too it, she booked the trip organized everything. All I had to do was brush my teeth, get a shower, get dressed and have all that done by a certain date at a certain time and then follow the ladies with the knowledge. Now, I must say, when-ever Barbara plans a trip, it is always immaculate and exceedingly fabulous. Some of the readers of this blog have experienced Barbara’s trip organization talents first hand and would quite readily completely agree.
Now, Vietnam. The trip was simple. Fly into Hanoi – explore the city, see HCM. Not a big fan of cult around individuals, but hey, it was part of the travel program. Then transfer using the 4Bs (Bus, Bus, Boat, Bus) to Catba Island – fro-lick in the waters of Halong Bay. And finally, visit Hue – which we didn’t. Instead we took the Night Train (yes the GNR song was the inner soundtrack in my head for the trip) to Sapa in the northern mountains.
So let’s start with Hanoi. Of course you have to eat – which we did as a team, hence I call this image “Teamwork”.
Then similar to Thailand, the Vietnamese have an ability to see through wire chaos – think Spaghetti, but black and some of them with high voltage other just with digital, television or telephone signals. But to the Western eye they are all looking the same and are indistinguishable.
Traffic deserves a dedicated entry, which it will get over the next few days. But there are also great places sprinkled throughout the city where the body and the head can rest and the heart can slow down. One such place is the garden of the temple of literature.
Hanoi is a city of pretty stark contrasts – which I like as you may know. One one hand there is hat appears to become an emerging middle class. People with jobs who bought themselves added mobility with a scooter. Then there are this insane-wealthy who drive Bentleys, Porsches, BMWs – surprisingly many of these cars were on the streets. And finally there are traditional means of transportation all co-existing peacefully in traffic. One of my perennial favorites are bicyclists, such as this gentlemen.
When the days’ work is done, young Hanoians go to hang with each other at one of the many sidewalk restaurants and cafes or they go party – maybe to this one (at least I think it advertises for a party)
Through al this traffic at any time of the day, people ride their scooters in a very safety conscientious way – wearing a helmet. Now, the helmets would also make nice flower pots, if turned upside down. And don’t expect much padding, but just like women’s shoes they come in different colors – some with a little cutout at the back of the head to accommodate a ponytail. I leave it up to you to imagine how much a helmet with a ponytail cutout will really protect a head in case of a crash.
Alright, I have to work tomorrow and need to go to bed. But this is a quick overview of Hanoi – more to come.
Stay sharp and keep it real…