Last fall, I had a chance to visit Hanoi, Vietnam. I loved the place. I would happily live there for a while, and maybe for a long while. It’s surprising for many reasons – I don’t like crowded, polluted, noisy cities. Especially ones that have a lot of people, smog and sounds in them. And Hanoi has all of that in spades. Even with that, though, they have pho for about $1.50, that you can get at 6 am from a street stall. And then again at 9 am. And noon. And 3 pm…you get the idea. It’s my favorite food.
Also, the chaos of the street feels strangely comfortable. Part of it is the lack of horns, part of it is that the traffic doesn’t move particularly fast, and part of it is that it doesn’t feel like the other molecules in the city’s bloodstream are trying to kill you. And there’s pho.
One morning, I went for a walk from my friend’s place, past the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, to the Lenin statue, starting out at 6:15 or so, and winding up back at my pho place by 7:30. At 6:36 am, Ba Dinh Square, in front of the mausoleum, looked like this:People exercising, tour groups walking through. Shortly after I shot this, they played the national anthem, everyone stood at attention, and then went back to their exercising and touring, but they started to leave.
I walked on to see Vladimir Il’ich (tomorrow’s subject), and on my way back, this was Ba Dinh Square at 7:21 am, from the opposite corner to the first photo: