Shattered In The Capital

Hanoi Travel Blog

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Haggard after 24 hours on the train.

Disclaimer: before I embark on a rant, just have to say that Hanoi –and especially the old quarter- is visually delightful and has a unique character that typifies the convergence of new & old happening throughout all of ‘Nam.


Like, So Not Cool


Anyone who tells you they’ve spent a period of time in Asia and never lost their cool is probably lying, or they’re so laid back as to be borderline comatose.


So far on the trip I’d remained relatively unfazed by all the differences.

said train...
I’m not saying it’s awful here by any means, it’s just that life is up close and personal all of the time, and as a western face you are the subject of constant attention which can get kind of exhausting.


What’s more, things that are easy at home, say walking down the street to buy some washing powder, becomes a full-scale mission.


First you must navigate the road; cross through hundreds of motorbikes weaving in every direction, then you have to snake a path through the assorted people, bikes, stalls, and rubbish, animals lining the pavements. When you get to the shop you must explain what it is you want; In the case of the washing powder you may need to resort to tugging at your clothes and making scrubbing gestures with your hands, Then after you’ve assured them that No! you don’t want to take your clothes off and have a vigorous massage you might actually find the washing powder stacked between a packet of dried peas and some soy sauce. Having located the powder you must then agree the price; haggle in the awareness that you are being ripped off, but that the seller probably has to feed his or her family for a week on the same price you’d pay for regular decaf latte (with a shot of caramel hmmmm.

Pathetically, this is the only picture I took in Hanoi.
.) back home.


I’m not complaining of course, it’s all part of the big adventure and a practical lesson in gratitude & patience. But there are moments when the Serene Worldly Goddess Within is overcome by her evil sister, the Spoilt Princess Within, and then everything’s “JUST TOO MUCH!! in this GODDAM COUNTRY and it’s all so STUPID & BLOODY BACKWARD”.


I had such an ungracious moment upon arrival in Hanoi.


Firstly I was totally ripped off by a motorbike driver transporting from the train station to my hotel. He began by trying to make conversation with me even though:

1) He spoke no English

2) I was sat directly behind him.

3) He had dreadful garlic breath.


I reckon I’m pretty fearless on a motorbike, but this guy was weaving about the road so erratically as he tried to look at me and talk, that I found myself screeching ‘Please just look forward!!”


Then he dropped me off 2 streets away from where I needed to be & just vaguely flapped his arm in the hotels’ direction & scooted off with many more Dongs (V-Nam cash) than he deserved.


After about 15 minutes of trudging wearily under the weight of the backpack I finally found the hotel, dumped my stuff & went out to find budget dinner (a packet of Ritz biscuits, some Dairylea & can of diet Coke)


Still angry from the motorbike driver, I stamped through the streets cursing the street vendors for taking up the entire pavement… and for sitting there chatting & laughing so happily whilst I was feeling so grumpy. Cursing the road users who kept honking, honking, honking.


By the time I’d found a snack store and had ungraciously let the owner know I knew I was paying over the odds for my modest purchase, and begun stomping back to the hotel, I was in a blind fury. If I were a cartoon character there’d be those black lightening daggers coming out of my head.


Pounding my feet into the dirty roadside I slipped and fell down in a muddy, stinky drain, groceries arms, legs all in the filth.


For a long second I teetered on the tip of pure venomous anger… and just when I was on the brink of bursting into tears, I saw the funny side: I was just where I deserved to be at that very moment!!


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Haggard after 24 hours on the trai…
Haggard after 24 hours on the tra…
said train...
said train...
Pathetically, this is the only pic…
Pathetically, this is the only pi…
photo by: mario26