Before coming we spoke with several people about Hanoi. The answers we got were no grayscale. That is one of the cities you either love or hate. It is clear to me the reason lies on the way different people cope with Hanoi’s hustle and bustle. Walking about the city isn’t easy. The sidewalk is not made for that. That’s just the place where local live their life, confined between the lane and the first 5 meters of the house. The sidewalk is in turn a parking lot, a flower shop, a restaurant, a shisha bar, a garage, a blacksmith workshop, a slaughterhouse, a playground, a restroom.
This oblige you to step down on the street, and start fighting with the horde of cars, tracks, bikes, scooters and many other debatable 2-wheels or 3-wheels means of transport. The flow doesn’t really follow any rule. Traffic never stuck. We have never experienced, like in Bangkok, huge queues and long time waiting. Cars and motorbikes never stop and move in a continuous chaotic roam like molecules in a channeled fluid. Attempting to cross the street it is quite a brave act, Not even over a zebra you have a safe corridor. The only thing is to go with the flow and wade through the flood. Anywhere you want. The street regulation the way we know it here is a mare advice. If you drive in a lane the wrong direction, just beep. If you cross with the red, beep. You do anything dangerous, beep. In fact, beep! If they beep to you, beep back. If you change direction, beep. If you see a friend beep. If you.. beep. Beep. BEE. Beep-beep. Muhhh.
It is not easy for me to deal with this mess. I assume it’s the same for many westerners. A moment I find if funny, amusing. A moment later my nerves are tense and I’m ready to explode at the first contact. The reason lies in the opposite attitudes. We had an interesting conversation about this with Marc, from Donkey Bakery. The Vietnamese are very easy going, not too worry with planning. While we are more straight with rules both at a juridical and behavioral level. In a word we are too rigid. May be Hanoi people’s flexibility is the way. My be we should learn to let it go.