A brief rundown of the places I’ve been, each location will be a separate post:
Hanoi – Bustling northern city which is settled around a lake. A cultural capital swarming with countless motorcycles which ebb and flow around pedestrians like a stream around protruding rocks. I can’t explain this in terms that you can understand if you haven’t witnessed it, but the motorcycles in Hanoi are out of control. When I arrived on Valentines day at 9pm it was nearly impossible to traverse the city by automobile. Cars would get stuck in intersections as thousands of motorcycles would weave around each other on all sides of the few cars as they sit and wait for the ceaseless parade of bikes to leave an opening. This taxi ride alone would have been a suitable highlight but it turns out this is a reasonably charming city considering its massive size. It’s clean and cosmopolitan – more fashionable and laid back than Bangkok but pulses with the same non-stop energy that the Thai capital has. The food is outstanding and the people (for a city of this size) are friendly.
Walking on the street taking photos of motorcyclists I stumbled upon a giant building with a small crowd in front of it. A performance venue for a Water Puppet show. Tickets for the next few days were sold out so I decided to save it for next time. I don’t really know what’s involved and I haven’t looked it up but the tickets were $6 so I don’t see how it could be disappointing if it’s sold out days in advance. Nearby there was an especially large intersection with not a single traffic light in sight. And the traffic at this intersection was just.. really something. Along with Steve, a 29-year old surfing structural engineer who I met on the train across the Chinese border, we found a nearby restaurant on the fourth floor. We spent about an hour reclining on the balcony of this cafe looking down on thousands of people on motorcycles streaming through an intersection from all directions. I drank a bright green mint water which came with two straws (thanks but we’re not boyfriends) and we watched the sun set over the lake from the peace of the fourth floor balcony as a cacophony of traffic horns floated up toward us.