Thursday, October 9, 2008
Hanoi is like a smack in your face. But I'm loving it. There is a constant stream of crazy sights and sounds, it's a definite overload of the senses. Everyone here drives a scooter, or is hoping you'll pay them to drive you around on a scooter. Walking down the street, you are constantly assaulted with, "Hello, moter?" "Hey. Moto." or "You, Moto!" The traffic system here feeds into the chaos- buses do whatever they feel like, regardless of the direction of traffic where they are, and everyone yields to them. Cars watch for busses and no one else, and so on down the line. Pedestrians make up the bottom rung of the ladder. The crosswalk doesn't mean much over here. I spent my first night in Vietnam completely wired from jetlag. When it's 7:30Am Wednesday in Hanoi, it's 5:30PM Tuesday in Seattle. I woke up before the sun on my first real day in Vietnam, and mustered up the courage to venture out alone (after the sun came out, of course) and go find food. Luckily, the only word I knew in Vietnamese happens to be what everyone here eats for breakfast- Pho (noodle soup). It was really good, and cost 20,000 dong (just over $1.00). It's so hard to keep track of the dong- the ATM limits you to withdrawls of only 20 million at a time, LOL. Anyway, after my pho, I found my way back to the hostel and crashed until Mikaela arrived. Then we walked around Hanoi, and afterward we partied at our hostel (until 8:30, because jetlag struck again) . Everyone is really friendly. A common theme with this city, everyone is really friendly- both Vietnamese and tourists. This morning, we awoke at a more normal time and went to get our Laos visas. We were pretty proud of ourselves for navigating the city so well, no easy feat since English is not *quite* as prevalent as I had thought it might be. We went to the Temple of Literature, which was beautiful and surprisingly peaceful given that its in the middle of the city. We found a place with the most amazing milkshakes, mine was mango and Mik's was coconut. Definately somewhere we'll have to hit again. Then we just kind of walked around and shopped. Tommorrow, we leave for a 3 day boat trip to Halong Bay. It's one of the things I'm super excited for, its nominated to be a natural wonder of the world. I'll let you know if it lives up to the hype when I get back.