It's hard to believe we're almost done with the first week already! It's been jam-packed and a real eye opener so far! Vietnam is a really interesting country to kick off our world tour with; I'll expand on those points I have been brooding on over the past few days…
For one thing, I have found the driving to be absolutely fascinating and different from anything I have experienced in any country around the globe (including Kenya where tourists actively warned against getting into anything other an pre-organised taxis!)!
When I say “fascinating” I really mean mind-numbingly terrifying!! The sheer number of vehicles on the road means that near enough all the time, you are fighting for road space, pavement space, even shop space with mopeds. We took the photo above of a man casually relaxing on his moped while hundred of speeding people rushed past him which kind of shows how complacent the locals are, even though us tourists are jumping this way and that to avoid flattened toes and the suchlike!
The mopeds themselves are an interesting phenomenon. Our tour guide when we went to Halong Bay (I'll talk about that in a bit) told us that the average wage is $1500 and a car is 3x the amount we'd pay in the Uk as the Vietnamese have to pay 7 different taxes on cars; therefore, pretty much everyone has mopeds instead. I can't remember the exact amount but he said there are something along the lines of 4 million mopeds in Hanoi city.
So, due to the volume of vehicles, people and tourists, as well as the humidity (which feels like it's pushing 100% at times!) my overall feeling of Hanoi was crowded. I know that sounds like i'm getting off on a negative foot, which I suppose I am BUT it means that everything that follows is a positive….apart from one more driving-based point to come later! Haha!
During our time in Hanoi, we managed to squeeze in what feels like a large amount of sight seeing and so on. We went to the war museum which, although interesting, was mainly written in Vietnamese…so it was a lot of guesswork on our part! There was this amazing sculpture outside though, which I was quite impressed with; it's pretty emotive!
While we wandered around the night before last, I noticed a beautiful, almost dilapidated traditional building so we pottered over to have a look at it only to find they were holding a concert of traditional Ca Tru music so we settled in to find out more. The music was certainly interesting and very beautiful in its way. One of the group explained what each song meant before they played it including “girl writes to far away boyfriend to express her feelings and loneliness”.
Half way through the concert, they had a break and gave out tea and green bean cake as well as asking the audience to try out the instruments. Alex gave them a valiant go!
I have realised I have a LOT to write so I am going to split this post up into the areas we visited, so that you're not bombarded by insane amounts of information at one go! So this is my Hanoi section: I'll post my Halong Bay one in a little bit!