Humid, Hectic HanoiWalking through the streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter recalls The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.
Traffic is a free-for-all, a speedy, fun unchoreographed bit of snarl. Walk when you want, drive when you want, stop when you want. It's great. There are as many mopeds as brunettes.
Yesterday, we received a little taste of political difference. A truckload of police pulled up next to us and the store we were walking by erupted. Girls began hiding the luggage they were selling - they had so many that it had spilled onto the sidewalk - as the soldiers began taking whatever they found and throwing it into their truck. Later an expat explained (or sort-of explained as an expatriate's story is best enjoyed if half-believed) that there is a penalty for selling on the sidewalk without a proper permit (read: bribe), the penalty being your wares.
Also: Lan Ong is the best smelling street on the world. Sidewalks barbershops are unbelieveably cool. And though locals may laugh that a tourist would ask, the best Banh Coun (sp?) you can have for under $1 US is had on the streets of Hanoi.
More later. This is amazing.