Observe. Hanoi’s old town is crowded and living space is scarce. A lot of the daily activities of those who live here take place on the streets, so there’s a lot to see.
We arrive around six in the morning and expect a quiet, slowly awakening city. But everyone is already in the streets. People play Badminton on every square. Street food is prepared right where it is sold. The communist party broadcasts announcements over a city-wide loudspeaker system.
We watch the traffic on one of the main road intersections in the old town from a balcony and it never gets boring. There is always a new type of vehicle passing by, always a new type of product being carried to the shop where it is going to be sold.
Eat. Vietnamese food is excellent, not only in Hoi An but also here in the capital where all parts of the country are represented. The staff at our hostel get the soup for our breakfast from a woman across the street. We have our first Vietnamese coffee, full of chocolate flavor and with a thick layer of condensed milk at the bottom of the cup. We learn that this milk coffee has to be stirred. I have a bite (but only one) of the hottest chili I tried in my live. Only the tea is disappointing, Lipton rules the country.
And above all: Take pictures. Hanoi is full of crumbling colonial buildings mixed with Asian elements. And full of colors. It is beautiful.
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