Crossing the road in Hanoi
“Walk slowly and purposefully into the path of the oncoming traffic”, was the gist of the advice in the info pack provided by our hotel in Hanoi, for getting across the roads.
I’ve never been especially confident about my road crossing abilities – years of being shut up in a boarding school and then being knocked over by a car a few years ago – haven’t helped. The streets of Hanoi fascinated me – especially in the evening when all of life was there – with people cooking, chatting, eating, drinking and washing up. But getting from one side of a road to the other was not an easy matter.
I stood frozen with fear, on the pavement edge, as hordes of motorcyclists careered towards us. My holiday companion (I’ll call him LL) got into the habit of grabbing me by my hand (like I’m a child) and dragging me across the road. On a couple of occasions I bottled out, LL left me behind and then shouted testily “YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN!” from the other side of the road. Eventually one of the locals took pity on me and helped me get across.
This demonstrates one of the best things about our trip – delightful, kind, charming Vietnamese people. (except for the one who tricked me into paying £15 for a 5p fan)
A Shrine to Fashion
I took this picture of a shrine in an H&M shop in Hanoi. I love it’s quirkiness.
The Halong Plaza
We’d planned that the highlight of our six-day holiday would be a boat trip in Halong Bay. I’d been seduced by pictures of the beautiful, limestone Halong islands, reminiscent of one of the James Bond films.
The scenery and the experience of being on a junk in Halong Bay, proved more exciting and special than I could possibly have imagined……. So we were devastated when told, that after lunch and a quick visit to a cave, the boat was returning to harbour and we were being transported back to Hanoi. And this, after the itinerary so far had gone: Sunday – leave Harrogate; Sunday/Monday – fly to Singapore; Tuesday – fly to Hanoi; Wednesday – 4 hour drive to Halong.
Apparently there was going to be a typhoon and it wouldn’t be safe to stay on the boat. But LL kicked up a fuss and was adamant we were not going back to Hanoi that night.
This is how we ended up at the uber kitsch Halong Plaza, in the only accommodation they had left – an enormous suite. Very ‘Golden Girls’, was LL’s pronouncement.
As a yoga teacher I did my best to meet this change of plan with equanimity, even when it included sharing a bed with LL. Still, there was plenty to giggle about – the swimming pool with the underwater traffic light effects; the live Pan Pipe performance of Do – Re – Mi from the Sound of Music; and the massive flat screen telly that kept turning itself on in the middle of the night.
The next day we had big smiles on our faces when at last we were told we could re-board the boat. The experience of being in a rock enclosed lagoon that afternoon, was all the more sublime because of nearly missing out. I had tears in my eyes.