We arrived in Hanoi almost literally 24 hours after we left home. In case you were ever wondering, Korean Airlines is the poop. Lots of room, lots of good movies (I watched The Heat, White House Down and Disconnect. NOICE! The Korean airport was BEAUTIFUL and everyone and I mean, every one, had bags. They were all shopping duty free in the airport. I totally want to go to Korea just from the airport.
Everything was pretty much shut down when we arrived at the hotel about 11PM. We walked for a bit, not too hot at night, but we had no idea what we were doing so we ran back to our hotel. Free breakfast of eggs and crazy bacon, pineapple and dragon fruit and off we went.
So, here’s what I know so far:
1. The smell was familiar as soon as we got off the plane. It’s a mixture of pollution, fire smoke and humidity.
2. It’s all about tiny stools and chairs. Everyone sits outside in groups of 5-6 or more and they eat or talk or smoke. There’s a lot of work going on, but what you do when you’re not working is hang out outside.
3. There are TONS of old people. Tons. I’m telling you, this is the best thing ever. They’re mobile, well taken care of and I think it might be better to grow old in Hanoi than Chicago.
4. There are many benches and places for the public to sit. John said that’s because there are so many old people.
5. Hanoi is like a mixture of New York, Bangkok and New Orleans.
6. I found this pretty much on every trip we’ve taken, but the hotel is the safest haven ever. It’s a quiet and cool place. The hotel room is all.
7. We are sweating up a storm. Pale Chicagoans, dripping with sweat and our nice hotel lady told us this morning that this is cold. Ha.
8. I believe the greatest joy of the Hanoians (?) must be watching tourists cross the street. There are really no lights, not that anyone pays attention to. We have to really watch how we cross. I’ve seen quite a few of us stuck on a curb unable to step off. John and I figured this out this morning: look left, look right – and then don’t look again.
9. The Southeast Asians are amazing squatters. I’ve been reading this fitness guy who says that everyone should be able to squat, all the way down, with your butt touching the ground, without your heels coming up off the ground. I can’t do it. I know lots of people that can’t. Every single Hanoian can.
10. I have seen 7-11s all over the world. So far, in Hanoi, I have not seen a one. In fact, I haven’t seen a McDonalds either. I hope that stays.
11. There are birds for sale everywhere. I didn’t see that in Thailand or India or Morocco, birds. Everywhere. All kinds of them. In the middle of all the honking and the noise, there are these crazy bird trills.
12. Smiles. PEOPLE ARE SMILING AT US. It’s so nice. Some don’t, a lot don’t. Most people don’t even care that we’re here, but some people have actually smiled right at us. And that just kills me. Because I don’t think anyone just smiled at us in Morocco. I told John that I actually have a secret fear that they’re laughing at me. Might be.