The sights, sounds & smells of Hanoi.

Trip Start Jul 22, 2009
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

How to describe the sights, sounds and smells of a city like Hanoi in 100 words or less?

The sights are easy. Post some pictures.

The sounds. Post a video.

The smells are more difficult. You have the smell of exhausts and dust. The smell of foods. The smell of people. You must use your imagination in conjunction with the photos and video.

Sounds you might not hear in the video are of the Vietnamese trying to sell you something and everything, trying to rent you a scooter, give you a tut-tut ride, screaming voices and children laughing.

Today I walked around Hanoi. Started at the Old City Gates, made my way to the Army Museum and Flag Tower, wandered off in the wrong direction and ended up at the Temple of Litterature where I got a history lesson on Confucious, saw the Quan Su Pagoda, couldn't find the Joseph's Cathedral Church, and saw many shops, scooters, and people.

By 5 PM I returned to the hostel and checked my email. Had a message from Stephanie and Kevan, the Jamaican couple from New York. She told me which hostel they were at and to wander over. On Facebook and I see Nick is online. I send him a message. No reply. Then I check my iPhone and notice I have a message from him on Skype. I had sent him a message yesterday and hadn't logged off. He saw me online but my phone was in my pocket on mute. We start sending text messages when he asks if the video call function works on my phone. I don't know, haven't tried it. Go outside as there's too much noise in the hostel lobby.

We chat a bit but he has to get ready to leave for a fencing competition. Sitting outside I meet Elizabeth, from Frankfurt. She just arrived from Thailand and is freezing and doesn't like all the commotion. She's suppose to meet someone she met on the plane at his hotel. I offer to bring her partway there on my way to see Stephanie and Kevin. She agrees. We're having some great conversation and she decides to skip meeting up with this other guy and tag along with me.

We arrive at the hostel and there in the lobby is Kim, Chris and Adrian, plus Lily from Toronto. They're heading out for supper. They haven't seen Kevin and Stephanie. We all head out for supper. We find a Vietnamese restaurant for some authentic food.

We all had a great time swapping stories. By midnight Elizabeth and I head back to our hostel. We have to get up early for a tour to a Pagoda that's 75kms outside Hanoi. I had booked the tour earlier in the day and mentioned it to Elizabeth as we were sitting outside the Hostel when we first met. Since she seemed overwhelmed by Hanoi and mentioned that she preferred nature I recommended it.

To summarize my view of Hanoi. The flow of traffic can only be described as Controlled Kaos. Horns constantly bleeping telling others who's where. It's like some giant unrehearsed ballet of people, cars, trucks, and scooters milling about. The businesses on the streets are set by type. Hardware on one street, shoes and clothing another, food here and there, bars all together, mannequin stores grouped together. The sidewalks are the business workshops. Picture framing shops do their cutting on the sidewalk. As do metal and woodworking shops. Throughout all this the scooters are parked. Sidewalks are not made to be walked on during the day. Everyone is in the street. At night the scooters are brought indoors making walking easier. Scooters do not follow and "normal" traffic rules or patterns. They can come from any direction. You need eyes all around your head. I found the easiest thing to do was to use all your senses when walking around. Using the sound of traffic to determine when and how to cross a street as traffic rarely stops. Definitely never for pedestrians.

Ah yes. Almost forgot to mention the continuing saga of my busted camera lens. Last night I found a camera store that has a lens that might work. It's a Tamron (generic camera lenses-not as good as Nikon) with similar zoom length as the broken lens. The problem is that it's a DX style lens. What that means is that it crops the photos on my camera because the camera I brought with me is a full frame professional camera. The photo is only about 2/3 the size of the view finder in both size and shooting characteristics. Last night I didn't buy the lens. I went back this morning to buy it when I figured it's the best I could find before I get to Thailand. My underwater camera just wouldn't cut it. Cost me $750. Why did this happen. I'll attribute it to my concern in Hong Kong about storage capacity on my iPad and external hard drive for all these photos I'm taking. I would run out of space long before my trip was over. So the Universe solved my dilemma for me. The file size of each photo now is about half what it was before.

I have to learn to be more careful about which thoughts I send out into the Akashic Field because it'll always find me a solution.

Think It! Feel It! LIve It! Love It!

PS. Yesterday's entry has one video of a street corner. I'm heading out to shoot a few more videos and will post those ASAP. Come back to view them.
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