Hanoi, Day One
Robyn and I rode into this town feeling a little run down after a long bus ride. We needed a day to recharge so we took it easy on day one... and it was awesome. We didn't leave the hotel before noon. Long hot showers (even a bathtub), laundry service, complimentary breakfast. This is a different world.
It's hard to believe that we drove by a bunch of villagers hulling rice and feeding chickens because this city has all the modernity of New York (I've never been but I can speculate) including giant cinemas and shopping centers, expensive cars stuck in traffic jams, iPod stores on every corner, coffee shops, and old men playing their version of checkers around a beautiful urban lake (in which we saw one man catching his lunch: tiny catfish he would grab out of the water with scissors. I refused to believe that he would be eating bottom feeders from a lake full of garbage but we asked him and he said the fish were lunch. I just hope that I'm not buying those fish from his restaurant.).
Robyn and I wandered the streets for hours with the dim goal of finding Megastar Cinema where we'd take a load off and watch an English-language movie. We weaved our way through the winding streets, lost from the start. We had walked around for almost 6 hours before we actually found the theatre.
I thought that walking across the street in Bangkok was risky. It doesn't compare to Hanoi. Here, everyone drives scooters and with scooters, there are no rules. You can drive backwards, forwards, through red lights, on the sidewalk, anything. To cross the street, we had to just walk slowly through heavy traffic, hoping that the drivers would see us in time to avoid us. In the scariest case, we walked across a street in rush hour and came within about 1 foot from maybe 30 motorcycles. I took a video of one uncontrolled intersection where four busy lanes of traffic all squirm through each other while rickshaws pedal through, pedestrians try to pass, and a Vietnamese man tries to sell balloons. Check out the short video. Saskatoon is going to seem so clean and tame by the end of this trip.