It’s cool and misty here in Sydney this morning, much like my first morning in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Hanoi is an incredibly bustling, in your face kind of city. The apartment buildings are narrow and tall, not so much neighbouring one another, almost on top of each other. Daily life is accompanied by the constant tooting of motorbike and taxi horns. Road rules are followed with a level of flexibility that you don’t see in regulated, orderly Sydney and yet it all works. You step off the pavement and move into the flow as bikes, taxis and cars move around you, occasionally you feel the breath of a passing motorbike as whizzes it passes you. Closely.
But the early mornings are far quieter. For a visitor, walking around Hanoi in the early morning (I left my hotel at about 6ish), it gives you the chance to see the residents of Hanoi moving at a different pace. Breakfasts are cooked on the pavements, food is bought from the back of bicycles and plastic tubs in the gutter, stalls are set up and exercise is taken around the Hoan Kiem Lake.
These were my favourite times in Hanoi. A time when I felt that I was witnessing Vietnamese life as it is lived, not just experienced as a tourist destination.