Hanoi slept in this morning.
As I was ready to get my energy rush, I was wandering the streets at 9am already and it looked like I had woken up in a ghost town. It was just me and a few old men in front of their houses burning fake money to their ancestors in their New Year ritual.
Truth is, most of the people were already praying and buying the Chinese amulets at the Confucian temple in the Old quarter.
The crowd was very well dressed and was buying all sorts of posters with wishes and new little bells for their doors and homes. There was lots of incense everywhere too.
The Ho Chi Min mausoleum was pretty much as expected: a copy of the Lenin one I saw in Moscow with Sam a long time ago. It is hard to tell how much of the original person is left, Madame Tussauds wax statue are so real already that you wouldn’t think a country needs to keep the original.
I went to Highway4 for lunch and it is such a beautiful place. However, the menu has a big variety of innards and pigeons and locusts and I almost walked away.
But the bamboo shoots with garlic and the fried rice were both delicious! So I’m glad I didn’t freak out.
The street came back to life at around 4pm, when every corner was filled with people on the blue and red low stools, having beers or lunch. The traffic got crazier too but now I can cross the street like a pro. In fact, I saw a woman following me, as I have done with others yesterday. It made me proud. I am more aware though of not leaving space between me and the sidewalk.
I was crossing at times and considered myself safe at a few centimetres from the sidewalk step. Mistake! If you leave any space, the other scooter, the one you hadn’t spotted yet, will come and barge in! So, you are warned.
The concept of space down here is pretty straight forward: people fight for it or simply go and get it. It is the same in a queue, the concept of time doesn’t matter, neither does it matter who came first, what matters is the space. I will go take the space that I can where I see there is one.
Three or four people on a scooter is the norm here. The equivalent of investing in a station wagon when your family grows bigger doesn’t really exist here. The same scooter that saw you growing up, will work when you have 1 or 2 or 3 kids as well.
I saw some westerners driving a scooter, and it crossed my mind for a second, then I came to my senses again.