The Eagle has landed...http://www.travellerspoint.com/my_blogeditentry.cfm?blogid=40898&entryid=333380
Way behind on my trip blog here and so I attempt to catch up.
Arrived in late at night from Vancouver to Seoul and then on to Hanoi. It was the wait in Seoul and then the 4 1/2 flight to Hanoi that pretty much finished me off - over 24 hours awake and I drift into the twilight zone.
Lighting so bad at the airport - kind of all dim and such that it made it all seem sort of closed country spooky. Of course it wasn't at all - just a big wait in lineup and then finally through customs and off into a cab. At this point, it was getting on about 11:00pm or midnight and it was raining and very dark and cold. Everything shut down and only cars speeding along on the highway into the city. These are times when you need to have that leap of faith and not let an overactive imagination run wild. Believe that you will be taken to your hotel - all nice and safe.
Driving through the city, with the dark and the damp and rainy night hanging over - things looked pretty run down and dreary. I find that everything looks a bunch of shades of depressing grey in the rain anywhere and here it definitely does. Even though - it is interesting at the same time. The whole place looks like a giant, run down, Chinatown. Very sad and moody.
Checked into my hotel by the young man who works as the night guy. He is a university student studying sciences and is very smart. I came to be impressed with the amount of young people who attend college and university here. Now this is a big benefit of a socialist cohttp://www.travellerspoint.com/my_blogeditentry.cfm?blogid=40898&entryid=333380untry - supporting your people from the bottom up - I love it. Also,this country I have since discovered is the land of the young. Everywhere you look there are tons and tons of young people and lots of people having babies. It all seems to hopeful and they are certainly moving toward building a middle class. There are older people too but you don't see as many as a demographic as you do people in their 20's and 30's.
Anyhoo.....after I fell into a coma and had a solid sleep - I got up to attend to my business. I had breakfast, changed rooms to one with a window and better hot water and changed money. Takes a few days to get used to all of the continuous noise here. I stayed in the Old Quarter which is very old and interesting - it is where most of the tourist hotels are and definitely the backpacker and budget travelers stay. That would be me. Lots of old store fronts and then new ones plugged in and it is all just chock a block. Check out my photos and you can see.
Traffic everywhere here is nothing short of congested and we would think crazy making but there is a system and once you get on the program, you are good to go. There basically is are no rules of the road as far as I can tell and so the horn becomes the tool to let others know when you will pass them, when you are in their way and move out of the way - you get the drift. So, for pedestrians trying to cross -again, very few if any cross lights and even when they exist, they are not paid attention to. Basically, it is just a continuous merge across the road, weaving in and out of motorbikes and bikes and people. It feels like death wish but if you just relax and move with a person or two who is crossing,you will make it. Eventually, you get the groove of the dance and it is kind of like a salsa through the throngs of everything.
Very cool here - glad I brought all of those long sleeve t-shirts and wool sweaters - between the damp and the 60ish degree temperature - feeling pretty cold here.
More on Hanoi soon...