I landed in Hanoi airport around 4:00 hired a taxi and headed of into a city of 19 million people and half that many motor bikes. My taxi driver drove with two feet (Jake as someone who will be driving soon, this is bad) he had the ability to use both the gas and break at the same time (Alice does this remind you of any one you know – Jim Mills Sr.). After about 45 minute and lots of twist and turns it I was oblivious he could not find my hotel. I had my index card (Mom style) with the hotel name,
“The Win Hotel” and address, “34 HAND DANH” clearly printed with the phone number as well as a map, but that was not working – next up the yelling – we had a great shouting match that would have impressed anyone and totally embarrassed Alice and my mom – but as you know if you yell slowly it helps with the language barrier. I had to break down and start asking people for help when we stopped at a light – Picture an American with half his body out the car window pointing at an index card and map and yelling “Win Hotel … Hang Hanh Street”, I did attract a little attention and eventually found my hotel. Checked in to a clean, two star hotel and promptly set out to explore with my guide-book in one hand, my D90 in the other with my back pack over my shoulder with everything else I might need in search of some Vietnamese coffee and spot to plan out my walking tour for the night. I LOVE THIS CITY, on first impression! The “Old Town” still retains much of its old world charm with French, Chinese and Vietnamese influences seen everywhere from the building to the streets themselves. At the same time you can see evidence of this charm quickly changing – No Starbuck’s or McDonald’s yet, but I know it is coming and excited I beat them to Vietnam.
The hotel bathroom had a sink, toilet and a shower hose – I assume you sit on the toilet to take a shower – Should speed thing up in the morning if you know what I am talking about…
The streets in are all called “Hang” something. For example my hotel is on Hang Hanh – Hanh stands for Onion. Each street is named for the industry or item the were sold on them – This is has already changed, and the street are more for the tourist then the locals, but the local still inter mix with everyone and the “Asian communist vibe” (a TV Jet Setter Dot Com word – Vibe) is still a good one. – Alice have you check them out lately?
I Snacked as I walked the streets – watching them transform into their night version with everything you could think of is being sold. I have decided everyone or anyone who lives in this city lives on the sidewalk they cook over an open fire, eat, wash, play, drink, nap, sell, talk and laugh all on the sidewalks and curbs of the city. Only actual sleeping is an inside activity this is true rain or shine. After walking for hours I found a spot to sit and enjoy a few local Hanoi beers at a street café, well a few plastic chairs on the curb of the corner of two streets I can not remember the names of. Talked to everyone who was doing the same and people watch before searching for a dinner spot and coordinating tomorrows jaunt. Dinners highlight was a sampling of Viennese deep-fried spring rolls. Did a little blogging and then his my hard mattress – all mattress in Vietnam are hard. With the sounds from the street streaming I passed out!