The most stressful part of cycle touring is I find arriving in a foreign city and having to assemble the bikes, find the hotel, get money out and acclimatise to the weather. I thought that Hanoi would be right up there on the old stresso meter but in the end I was worried unduly.
|Go to Vietnam and Become Instant Millionaires|
We were so tired when we arrived at the airport that I grabbed a cab and we were delivered to the hotel without delay and due to a bit of research on my behalf, also without being ripped off by the taxis driver. After crashing for an hour or two, where I lay in a foetal position listening to the sound of people shouting, scooters roaring, and cars tooting beneath our balcony, we got up and braved the outdoors.
I think every second scooter ever made is now residing in Hanoi. If I wasn’t so shell shocked I would have been in sheer delight at the number of Vespa’s buzzing around. I didn’t see any PX200’s like the ones Adi and I have at home but the number of the later models was just mind blowing. Our walk outside was short. Just far enough to find a restaurant for later, and to gain a few supplies. It was however long enough to put me in a cold sweat wondering how we were going to get out of Hanoi on our cycles in the morning. More importantly I wondered how we were going to get out of town in one piece. The traffic was just chaotic.
It is of course impossible to have a cold sweat here. Currently it is 33C and about 80% humid. Later in the evening after we had had dinner and I had assembled the bikes and fixed Adi’s puncture (no. 1), I noticed that the din outside the window had calmed down. Unlike a lot of big cities the Vietnamese must go to sleep during the night. Just maybe if we got up early we could sneak out of town in the quiet.
No chance. The Vietnamese go to bed early so they can get up early. We were off at 7am and officially entered into the scooter world champs.
Three hours later not only were we on course, thanks to my h/bar compass, but I was also having the time of my life. Scooters chugged past hauling ducks, pigs, bags of goldfish and assorted building materials. On top of this the locals are so friendly and smiley it just puts the rest of the world to shame.
So far the only sore face guy has been the customs guy at the airport. But then aren’t they all.
After four bottles of iced tea at a roadside stall, (where Adi made a lifelong friend out of the lady that ran it), we were ready for the final stint to a hotel a further 10kms up the road.
Adi zoomed off ahead and I hung back chatting to scooter chicks coming past and offering all sorts of polite encouragement.
I have to say that the kids here are cute.
O, there you go. I get distracted for a minute and I’ve lost Adi.