Wednesday, February 16, 2011
hanoi. the great north.
Well Jayzuz, I'm glad we were the only people to geek out on Lonely Planet because fuck. This place is cold. And I cunningly remembered my ski jacket. I'm a responsible little fucker.
We are in Hanoi, northern Vietnam, capital city, close to China. And I have never, in all my travels, been so blown away by a place.
It's difficult to describe the sheer number of motorbikes here. There is a constant sea of 8000 Kawasaki's coming towards you at any one time. You cross the street by blindly praying you don't die and just walk forth.
The conical hats! They're real! It's weird to see people wearing these in real life. We wandered through the old town and tried to take in the sheer chaos.
Thailand is first world compared to Vietnam. It's pure chaos, and yet it seems to work. The electricity is a complete joke - bundles of wires strung around poles haphazardly, some swinging down enough to send lightning through your skull.
Twice I've walked into live wires just kind of hanging there.
The noise, colours, throng of people. Fresh, green undeterminable vegetables in baskets on the streets, as well as everyone's favourite domestic pet.
They eat dog in this country. Especially in the north. And I'm certain I walked past a live chopping stand today.
Hanoi is thousands of years old. With heavy French and Chinese influences. It was bombed a few times by the Yanks, but most of the old stuff still remains.
Hanoi is the home of the country's hero, Uncle Ho.
Ho Chi Minh was the dude responsible, loosely, for Communism in Vietnam. He won the war against the Americans, and thus is a hero. As seen at his mausoleum there.
Jesus, the Communist army standing around the dang thing was scary enough. I skittered away when they drew their AK 47s when I asked if I could take a picture.
Once I'd shat my pants, we moved on.
There are flags everywhere here bearing the hammer and sickle, and Lenin is the town's statue.
Oh, we saw bomb fragments and the shrapnel of old US Army planes that had been fucked over. While counting 8 million Dong (25p?) for a bag of crisps.
Emotional and excited, I sent a text to my parents:
Mum, Dad, hi. We've arrived in Hanoi, northern Vietnam. It's cold, but whatever. Am absolutely mindblown by this place. TYou ask me why I travel so much and if it exhausts me, well, here's my answer today: this is why I travel. The stuff I have seen and consumed today is utterly amazing. What a place. Takes my breath away, the culture and weirdness. I wish I could explain more. However this is why I will travel until I die. To see places like this. Love Peas xxx
Later at dinner, we were being served burgers at our hostel. Sitting on the roof, chewing the fat with a load of other travellers, I had Patty Doubt.
If you'd seen this in the street earlier, then you would've too.
Bear in mind, most Vietnamese people speak English like I speak Vietnamese.
Peas: Babe you sure you wanna eat that?
Brit: [chew chew chew] Yes why? It tastes amazing.
Peas: Er....you sure it's beef?
Brit: [chew chew chew] Oh no, don't even suggest anything else Peas. Oh no you don't. He wouldn't.
Peas: Well I'm going to find out.
Brit: Don't tell me. [chew chew chew] Actually don't ask, Peas no. NO. Because if you don't get a burger then I'll know there's dog in there and vomit my dinner up.[Stops chewing]
Peas: Hello mister. That burger...is it cow?
Braaimaster: xe chung mung trang?
Peas: OK. Dog? Or....Cow?
Braaimaster: Dang Chow?
Peas: Shit. [leafs through Lonely Planet for vocabularly section. Unsuccessfully]
Peas: Fuck. OK. Is it 'thit bo?'
Peas: OK OK. MOO MOO? Or...ARF ARF??
Braaimaster calls proprietor over. Talk in manic tones.
Peas: OK just please tell me, is there dog in this burger?
I didn't believe him. But for the sake of mine and my boyfriend's stomachs, it was nice to be told otherwise.
How many times I ate dog on this trip I dunno.