|Hanoi residents exercising around the lake at dawn.|
|Hanoi's old quarter.|
|Bikes and pedestrians share the road.|
|Crossing the road. Just walk, they'll go around you.|
|Cables like vines in the canopy.|
|Everything gets transported by bike.|
It took me a few days to get used to Hanoi, it's a slight change in pace from China, and a different kind of chaos. One thing that was immediately noticeable, and would take me some time to get used to and accept, was the number of foreigners here. I'd enjoyed often being the only stray in the village, being the novelty for the locals and feeling like I was on a little adventure. Now I was just another tourist. I was a tourist of course in China and elsewhere but I often saw so few others that I wasn't reminded of the fact. It felt like everyone was in Hanoi, and most of them I didn't like. There were lots of middle aged, or early retired people, looking slightly hostile and cautious clutching their money belts and wearing their zip-off gore tex trousers. They would be driven around the city by the bicycle men, and they looked like giant fat babies sat in pushchairs, snapping away on DSLRs with the settings still on auto. The worst people though, by far, were the young. People my age. Eurgh. Just awful.
|Bikes, pointy hats and backpackers are the first three things you notice.|
I left with the Fins to find somewhere else to have a drink. We hopped around a couple of places drinking 30p beers, I guess you could say we were doing a bar crawl of our own, and we were no different to the mass of backpackers who had so wound me up earlier on the evening. But we were different. I'm not saying we were better. But really, we were. We met some local girls who invited us to join them in a place that was staying open later, and we needed no convincing. The police were shutting bars down, probably to solicit bribes from the bar owners to stay open, and it was a bit of a game of cat and mouse as we waited around the corner for the police to leave before the late night bar reopened and we could continue the night. The bar was in some kind of shack, in some kind of swamp, down on the river. It felt rather Apocalypse Now, but they refused to play any Wagner. We stayed, drinking, dancing and talking until it closed. None of the 'banter brigade' from earlier were there, just a slim handful of foreign faces, and the rest locals, a good mix.
It had been an interesting first day, I was liking Vietnam, but the numbers of tourists was just going to take some getting used to, I wasn't used to sharing. The rest of my days bleed into one. I went for walks exploring the old town, but I'm not shopping for anything and even cheap shops with bargains in are useless to me. I spent some time hiding away, watching episodes on my laptop, as I eased into Vietnam. I went to the War Museum, which was ok but a bit disappointing. They had some tanks and aircraft outside, but inside I thought was lacking, there wasn't too much information so I barely learnt anything, and what information there was, was amusingly biased. It was all about the 'Vietnamese heroes bravely wiping out the enemy', and a helmet full of bullet holes had the caption 'Evidence of the failure of the French'. Amusing, yes. Informative, not really. Considering how big the war was, I thought they didn't have much. One of the exhibits was a Casio calculator from the 90s, I had the same one for GCSE maths, enthralling stuff. At least mine had interesting tip-ex graffiti.
|A typical scene.|
|I recognised this from the Hanoi level on Call of Duty.|
|One of the captured planes on display.|
|A sculpture made from wreckage from shot down aircrafts.|
|Outside the War Museum.|
|The quieter government district.|
|Ho Chi Minh mausoleum.|
|Just a train running through the neighbourhood.|
|Mildly arousing mannequin shop.|
|Across the rooftops of Hanoi.|