Oct.29 – Day nine – The Old Quarter – Hanoi

Oct.29 – Day 9 – The old quarter is filled with narrow winding streets. Each block is selling one item only for the most part. The buildings are up to five stories tall and many are in the Art Deco style. They are houses with the first floor being a business. They are narrow and deep. The trees are tall and ancient. The buildings are painted many colors, but yellow or gold seem to be most common.

There is so much wild traffic that crossing even these narrow streets can be quite difficult. Motorcycles speed by with families packed on them, going who knows where. The drivers seem intent on reaching their destinations and will do anything to do so. It all seems foreign to us, but it works some how.

If we drove like they do here at home we would all be locked up. It is different here somehow and so we just joined in and made the best of it. There was no other choice. It’s amazing what one can and will do when given the chance. It’s like the running of the bulls I suppose. I haven’t done that yet, but I have been a pedestrian in Hanoi.

The shops sell anything that you might need. Just walk a little and look around.

Hanoi means Red River, or so I have been told. The city is dense in the center and the traffic is the worst that I have ever seen. Thousands of motorcycles looking to get past the cars at every chance. Nearly every one wears a face mask to keep out the dust and fumes of the traffic.

To see a woman’s face here and to chat one up might be difficult here. The noise is tremendous as the vehicles line up and wait for the lights to change. It looks like a race beginning to start.

You are not even safe on the side walks. A quiet motorcycle will sneak up behind you as you walk forward looking for that special place to shop or eat. They mean no harm of course and pass with little effort or damage. They are just trying to get from point A to point B.

Pictures cannot show you how much traffic there is, just think of the worst traffic jamb you have ever been in and triple it. It is exciting and interesting to see how others live with what ever they are dealt in this world.

There are rickshaws all around us in the narrow streets peddled by strong, thin, men dodging the traffic and carrying locals and tourists all over town, seemingly without a care in the world. They are not young. Perhaps the young men have more and better opportunities now.

These lands have a history thousands of years long of war and pain. Thankfully that is behind them and things will only get better. We hope so, anyway.