Escaping the mid-day heat in a nearby park
Nắng nóng… sunny and hot. To my readers in Australia who are shivering in the rainy Victorian weather, doesn’t that sounds lovely right now? Well you’re wrong. Last week was day after day of nắng nóng. A phrase Hanoians say in a tone reminiscent of “cold and rainy”… for once, hot and sunny weather is not something to look forward to. Growing up in Bright, 40 degree days are not uncommon but 40 degree days with air so thick I feel as if I’ll drown under Hanoi’s smoggy skies are another kettle of fish… or bowl of snakes is, perhaps more appropriate.
Around the corner is a small pop-up market. Every morning women arrive with long poles sporting baskets of goods and conical hats lowered against the heat and scooter fumes. If I go early on the right days (which I am yet to pin down) I may be lucky enough to see bowls of small snakes, withering in the sun next to half plucked dead chickens laid out next to their live brethren. Beside the watery bowls of circling fish, waiting to be unceremoniously slaughtered on the road; I buy bananas, pineapples, mangoes and something I thought was a lychee but is apparently a type of chom chom… a word I only know from Vietnamese class.
Walking home in the humidity, half human half puddle, a strong wind picked up and blew bright green leaves across my path. As I thankfully turned my damp face to the breeze, I caught a sweet tangy wiff of the freshly cut passionfruit displayed at the small street stall where I occasionally drink café sữa đá (iced coffee). Given the rapidly descending light, I decided against stopping. As I reached home, the blackened sky opened up and the world was awash with water. In the darkness, shop lights flicked on and the street fell quiet, a rare sight for mid-afternoon. Fifteen minutes later it cleared and life resumed. The heat had gone… for now.
7pm Wednesday was the time Zack decided to have a shot at playing rugby. 9pm Wednesday was the time that Zack decided perhaps rugby wasn’t for him.
More in attempt to meet new people, than actually play the game, Zack bounded out the door with the idea that it would be a casual game between a few over-fed expats such as ourselves. I, on the other hand, decided a movie and Thai take-away sounded more appealing than aimlessly flailing around a field, as I seem only capable of in the presence of a ball. After my Ultimate Frisbee experience in Gambia I’m not one for team sport. A few hours later the previously chipper Zack returned home looking a little dejected. He was hot, soaked with sweat and had had little time to meet his fellow players… oh and he was also nursing a hand that appeared to be growing a small golf ball. After a sleepless night, the golf ball had become a tennis ball and we thought an x-ray may be wise.
With a predetermined idea of what a Hanoi hospital could be like, visiting one within our first month wasn’t really on the itinerary. When the cab pulled up outside a gleaming, nine story building, those preconceived ideas were shattered. The brand new Vinmec International Hospital, is Hanoi’s first “5 star hospital hotel”. Needless to say we did not have the experience of the majority of Hanoians when they visit their local hospitals.
As the glass doors slid open, we stood staring down blindingly white, paint scented hallways that seemed to stretch for eternity. Waiting in a glass walled room with chairs that still had price tags and a television that only played white static, the place seemed eerily quiet. Although I can’t fault it for being spotlessly clean. Among the few other patients in the entire building were a couple of very pregnant Vietnamese women and an elderly lady with a large tumor that concealed half her face.The older woman, who stared unblinkingly into space, was accompanied by a cameraman and a gaggle of young women in slim fitting office clothes and 6 inch heels that echoed down the corridors.
The hospital staff were very friendly, unfailingly polite and insisted on escorting us between the various floors and offices. Three hours later we emerged into the warm humid, ever smoggy air, slightly bewildered by the whole experience. Zack sporting a cast that he will wear for the next six weeks. Did I mention it was a game of touch rugby?
view from bedroom window
Xin chào các bạn and welcome to my new blog Hà Nội Sống which means something along the lines of Hanoi living, living in Hanoi, Hanoi live etc. despite the poor grammar, it makes a nice title.
As Zack and I have now arrived at our new home for the next two years in Quận Ba Đình, Hà Nội, it seems time to begin a new chapter of blog writing. I hope you will stay tuned as I attempt to live, work and speak Vietnamese in this lively city full of interesting culture, different smells, crazy driving and of course… wonderful food.
You can follow my adventures by clicking the “follow” button that pops up on the bottom right hand side of the screen and please leave comments along the way.
xin cám ơn các bạn và hẹn gặp lại!