Som’ writin’ ’bout ‘nam

26 Aug

Okay, so nothing intense, but a few quick things I wanted to jot down about Hanoi before I fell into the delirious, hilarious sleep of someone who has been washing down malaria medication with cheap beer and street pho for the past two days.

Anyway. I am currently in Vietnam with my friend Donovan. We are leaving Hanoi for Ho Chi Minh tomorrow. That should be enough for this.

A traffic thing. It’s the first thing I noticed about the city, and one of the most typifying. People surge through the narrow streets on mopeds, roller blades, cars, busses and rickshaws. If there are road rules anyone actually follows, I can’t discern them. The important one seems to be: If I can get in front of you, not killing both of us is now your problem. From the sky, the cars must look like bags of confetti blowing at a crosswinds.

Six and a half million people live here, and every single one of them is in a hurry to get somewhere else.

Horns bleat constantly. The sounds are all shrill and surprising, but somehow not accusatory. There’s more courtesy and obligation in it than menace. Kind of like a bicycle bell, I guess. But the net effect is an incessant, squeaky din of gameshow-buzzer-like noises. It’s like being trapped at a spelling bee for dumb kids.

And the only thing more dangerous than driving in Hanoi is walking. Similar to Italy (*adjusts beret, takes whiff of own farts from crystal decanter shaped like David Sedaris*), crossing the streets here is like like playing a reality TV version of Frogger. At best, you feel like the traffic is actively trying to kill you. At worst, you think you are a cartoon frog, because you are pretty drunk may be having some anti-malarial-induced visions.

A funny thing. The first time Donovan and I crossed a busy street, we celebrated by yelling “nailed it!” and pumping our fists into the air, because we adults. And then this little middle-aged dude in the standard-issue double-breast-pocketed button down t-shrt turns around and says:

“Yes, hello? I am Nailed It.”

We weren’t sure what he meant, but we walked away wondering if something that sounds like “Nailed It” is a common Vietnamese name, or if we had just been hell-of trolled (i.e. found the Vietnamese Ian Wallace).

A food thing. It’s so good, you guys.

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