The Weekend in Hanoi's Old Quarter...
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
17Trip End Jan 24, 2011
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I decided that the logistics of getting to the Buddhist Monastary and grounds at Tay Thien was just too challenging, especially since I had yet to master crossing the street here. So instead, I decided to catch a bus & see Hanoi’s Old Quarter district where street shopping on these narrow and charming streets is fantastic… it was so different from the Hanoi where I am located
Before I could get there, I needed to know what bus to take, and where I would want to go in general within Old Quarter….figured I would just get a hotel when I got there. I saw this nice college aged girl just across the narrow alley from where I’m staying at VPV, realized she spoke pretty good English and started chatting with her. Her name was Ta and I had a map and asked her where I could catch the bus and asked which one I should take to go to Old Quarter. She said if I went out of the alley & crossed the street, yes the street, I would see the bus stop and to take bus #2.
Ta realized immediately without my saying that crossing the street for a westerner truly is a scary challenge and said she and her friend Yen were going to classes in a bit and would walk me across the street on their way. I am serious… it is no exaggeration how intimidating it can be to wade through motor bikes coming at you as you are walking across the grain of traffic. You can be walking across a line of 8-10 motor bikes coming right at you… just keep walking and some bikes will go in front of you, some behind you
Again, the people of Hanoi are just so warm and friendly. But what I have found most endearing about them is their light spirit and playfulness…and an excellent sense of humor…. All traits that are absolutely opposite what I had expected to find. They love joking, and just seem so cheerful….I really love it here, just wish it was a bit cleaner.
So after a 30 minute bus ride I was at the Old Quarter. Got off the bus but really had no idea where to stay
The hotel was perfect, great location, clean, Wifi so I watched the Jet game, and I found my Italian restaurant for which I’ve had a craving for a long while now.
I know it may seem tedious to hear me keep talking about traffic and crossing in it, but it has been a real ‘learning moment’ for me, and never more so than last night at Old Quarter
It is like all laws of nature and the universe have been suspended and don’t apply here…. Shoppers have no problem shopping, bikes travel in both directions, slower of course, but without regard to whether they are on the left or right side of the street. When this flow of vehicles and people get to an intersection (with no lights of course), these two surges somehow are able to move thru and across each other.
Here’s my further take on it… everyone knows that for traffic flow to work, ‘me, me, me" pushing & shoving and trying to get there first just slows things down for everyone.… there is no crawling over others to get ahead, no arguing, people have a heightened awareness of others … they cooperate to make the entire system work, realizing that ‘sacrificing’ their own selfish desire to push ahead makes the system not work for anybody… it is just self defeating. If you wish to stop and shop, just move to the side and be aware not to block others. These people are super aware and conscious to everything and everyone and realize that for themselves and the greater good, it is necessary to subordinate any of the ‘me, me, me’ attitude…
The next morning, I went to breakfast and started to chat with this dumpy mid 50’s Australian man and his ‘hot’ 25 year old Vietnamese wife at the next table. His name was Leon and he has lived here for the past 5 years. The 3 of us were talking the entire breakfast and he really knew the Vietnamese culture, people & history.
The one thing I’ve wanted to know is why it is that the people here are so accepting of Americans and couldn’t be any warmer or nicer, considering the death & injuries many families received during the war. He had a clear, succinct answer… it was that the people of Hanoi were just so worn down by war & are doing well now and don’t even want to look back…. They are just so happy to be where they are now and moving ahead. The people here are just wonderful, not sure when I’ve so enjoyed a group and culture as much…go figure.
I have some great pics & video of teaching at Peace Village for the next entry…now I’m also working with the older kids that are much more responsive and lots of fun… more to follow later.