Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sitting upstairs in.....

A very modern outdoor cafe

With a cool breeze blowing the mugginess off my sticky skin, I sat above a 5 way intersection illuminated by the neon lights of western restaurants and cafes. There is a continuous hum of moto after moto flowing through the streets of Hanoi with an occasional beep as one wave meets another, the weaving in and out of the chaotic slow-moving two wheelers expertly never hitting the people who also need to cross or barely missing the balloon woman standing in the middle of the street. I am sipping a dark bitter ice cold Vietnamese coffee not sweetened enough by the white condensed milk. The ice melts and dilutes the mixture into a drinkable concoction that maybe won't leave a thick coated icky after-taste on the back of my tongue.

Hanoi is a city that never stops, that is always moving, a city where you can't sleepwalk a second or else from an unexpected direction a dangerous vehicle will barely and miraculously just miss you, saving you from injury. This city no longer has bicycles. Motos have replaced bikes and moto parking lots have replaced sidewalks. Skinny families of 4 sit straddled on the long saddles, and children stand sandwiched between fathers and mothers.

To be a pedestrian just go and walk across the street. As long as there are no wide cars, the motos will swerve to avoid you. Walk with a confident constant stride. The drivers are anticipating your step. To hesitate may be fatal. In this city of constant movement hopefully you will only meet beeping horns and good brakes.

Pictures taken by Kyan.

1 comment:

Lien said...

When my siblings and I were growing up in SF, my mother told us never *ever* to stop or turn around or hesitate once we started crossing a street. I did not understand this until I went to Vietnam. I guess even years after she left, my mother did not outgrow this habit.