Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia – Hanoi – Oct. 28 – 2018

Sunday Oct. 28 Day 8 – Hanoi – We arrived in the afternoon in Hanoi.

We always walk the cities that we are in as much possible. The slow pace gives you a chance to see and smell and hear the things that you will miss on a bus or van. This place is a crazy mess. The traffic is thick with cars and thicker with motorcycles. They come and go in all directions and there seem to be no police around to enforce any of the traffic laws if they do exist. They even sneak up on you on the sidewalks. The left turn lane goes as the cars going straight approach the intersection. What the heck.

The streets around the park were closed to automobiles today and will be tomorrow for a celebration of some sort. There are families with young children walking around and students taking photos of their groups and a groom and a bride being photographed as well.

As we tried walking through the old town it is soon apparent that it is impossible to walk on the small, narrow sidewalks due to the thousands of motorcycles parked on them. So we venture into the streets. At first the traffic in intimidating, but you must join in and go where you need to. Don’t be afraid, it all seems to work. Somehow we were able to cross the streets that we needed to and were uninjured. It seemed impossible, but somehow we survived.

There are art deco buildings have covered gardens on the top floor and their sides are covered in the black mold that seems to be everywhere. The climate is humid this time of year and the mold must be very happy, or as happy as mold can get. The buildings, some with intricate moldings on the front, are up to five stories tall with little space between them. What stories these buildings could tell if they could talk.

The people are helpful when we asked for directions and are as helpful as possible considering our language barriers. It was a pleasant time being in Hanoi. We were told that Hanoi means red river. The river is all around us here and must have been very important to the city in the long, distant past. I assume that it still is as nothing has changed much as far as I can tell. It is still a country tied to farming as all three of these countries are.

The buildings are all made of brick, covered in stucco. While we were walking in the evening next to the park, a building collapsed across the river from us. We could hear the rumble of bricks and the ringing of the tin roof as it fell. There was a cloud of dust in place of the building in a few seconds. Soon a crowd gathered in front of where the building had been. It was the evening so I don’t think it was a planned demolition. I asked or tour guide about it the next day, but he said he never saw anything in the papers about it. Hopefully it was just a wall left over that fell and no one was injured. No ambulances or police arrived, so perhaps the locals knew that it was an empty building meant for destruction.

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For photos of my trips, go to my friend’s Facebook page at Ray-Andrea Matthews. It’s public.