How do you describe Hanoi when everything that comes into your head sounds like a cliche.
Its busy,well very busy, noisy, a riot of colour, lots of motorbikes and hot. Its the heat that gets you first, followed by the smell. Coming out of anywhere that has some sort of air conditioning and getting on the street is unsettling. In an instant your clothes stick to your skin and you want to rush for an open window. The streets in Hanoi don’t have windows to open so you put up with the heat. The second sensation, which follows a few seconds later is the smell. Its a good smell and especially nice in the early evening. I don’t know about others but I don’t mind the heat when it smells like this.
The other thing you notice is the number of young people. It looks like most Vietnamese young people axe significantly taller than the older people. This is not just the usual thing of the next generation getting taller, it is a significent difference. Its not all young people but it is most.
I remember reading about the change in height between generations in the UK in the 1970’s. Research showed then there had been a sudden significant increase in height between generations and it was suggested that it was predominately to do with better nutrition and better health care, all brought about by the welfare state brought in by an extinct political party in 1948. It would not surprise me if modern day researchers are expecting our grandchildren to be smaller than we are. And who said that politics does not matter.
Anyway, back to Hanoi.
People seem at ease living on the streets. Lots of food cooked and eaten on the street, lots of family groups that all seem happy, no sign of young people, or old people for that matter, being isolated or left out. Things seem to be done in family and friendship groups. It is all rather splendid.
The wonderful surprise is what fun it all is. Lots of smiles from people. great fun playing dodgems with the motorbikes and scooters. People helping when you are lost and lots of people just looking happy.
Some of them it is because they are getting, or planning on getting married. Getting married is a big thing here, but more of them on the next post. Meanwhile here are some pictures: