Last week we went to a bar about a 10 minute walk from our house. We had been invited by one of Zack’s colleagues and I forewent my usual hanoian bedtime of 9pm (as dictated by my confused body which can’t decide if I’m in Melbourne, Washington, Seoul or Hanoi) and ventured outside after dark. The bar was great, set along a “quiet” shady street, the three floors of the old ramshackle french building were connected by steep, slippery concrete stairs that must have seen some nasty slides. Decor ranged from old posters and faded fabrics to bottles hanging from the ceiling and shisha pipes on the tables. We sat on the roof where the balmy weather made us thankful to be done with winter for a while. The evening smells were wonderful. A humid combination of fading food and incense with an underlying odor of car fuel, sweating rubbish and the occasional whiff from an open toilet door. This mixture, a scent that I am inept to describe, seems to prosper in the dark. We were there in an effort to meet new people and that we did but for me, the best part of any outing has been the journey to and from the location.
As I’m sure many of you have either heard or experienced, traffic in Hanoi really is terrifying. I do have a memory of bad traffic but in the 10 years since my visit I assumed it couldn’t be as I remembered… this was a correct assumption…. it’s not like I remembered… it’s definitely worse. Stepping into oncoming traffic is not an action I take lightly and at nighttime, when all that is visible are a series of blinding lights racing towards me, my hesitancy is strengthened by my natural instinct not to die. As my mind and body have a standoff as to when is the best time to venture out I begin to consider the benefits of waiting on the sidewalk until daybreak so I can avoid crossing the road in the dark. Needless to say we did make it home and once safely on the other side the road never seemed that bad. My current tactic is to look both ways before I step out and then keep my head down until I reach the sidewalk. It turns out the worst part of our walk home (yes it was only 10 minutes) was an awkward encounter with a small possum sized dog. After sizing us up for 30 seconds, this possum-dog decided that we were bad news and commenced barking so hard it could barely keep all paws on the ground. After a moment of stunned silence there seemed nothing else to do but yell loudly, startling the man near by, and run down the street… screams evolving into nervous giggles once we reached the corner. So… all up a nice evening in Hanoi.
Hẹn gặp lại!