|Slater's Fancy Camera Work|
bit of getting used to! I came to love the activity, the constant stream of people and things. The things - there was really no telling what things you would see strapped to a motorbike going down the street. The laws of physics rarely apply in old Hanoi.
We stayed in a charming little hotel, on the corner of chicken and bamboo streets. The names of the streets in the old quarter are derived from what used to be sold on them. There are no superstores in old Hanoi. Each building/home/shop/garage is just a few meters wide (taxation rates are based upon the width of the property on the street front) and specialized in selling just one thing. Now I didn't see too many chickens being sold, but I know where you can get a freshly-made bamboo ladder.
|View of the street from hotel lobby|
So, I was sitting there and this motorbike drove up, carrying this huge (about 4 feet by 4 feet) stack of what I know know to be sugar cane. The driver gets off the motorbike, unloads a green scale (also ubiquitous to Vietnam - I assume since production was/is tightly controlled, it's the only scale in town) Oh, and speaking of scales! There is a scale in bathroom of this hotel! Ever been in a hotel with a SCALE? Anyway, guy gets off the bike, unloads the scale, measures out some amount of sugarcane, leaves it against the wall, directly across the street and then just takes off - I assume to make other deliveries.
Same thing happens with the cleaning supply "store" which is what you see across the street. When I got down to the lobby that morning, there was nothing in that spot, but motorbikes began to appear and would just drop off random jugs of stuff. I asked the night clerk if that was something to drink (miming a drinking motion) and he laughed and told me it was cleaner! Pretty soon enough supplies showed up and a woman soon followed to set up shop for the day. What you can't see is that she also brought with her gasoline in about a five gallon container, so she was also a gas station!
So that's the morning activity from the hotel view. The evening commerce includes an all-night pho stand. The proprieter of that establishment doesn't show up until about 8pm at night and she takes the place of the cleaning stand (which disappears about 6:30pm) and serves pho until about 3am (from what I'm told).
This was our first morning in Hanoi. We would leave Hanoi about 8:30am and travel to Ha Long Bay for an experience of a lifetime.