Yes, they actually do, I was born a year after it was over! and alright, now what?

The Wandering Nerd May 12th, 2008

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Welcome to lovely Hanoi! I only stopped in Hue long enough to change buses before hopping on the next overnight sleeper bus here to Hanoi. Finally landing in a hostel - a much needed change. I’m not really a ‘guesthouse’ sort of guy. They are just really cheap hotels and the moment you compartmentalize people, even travelers, they stop wanting to interact with each other. All of the guesthouses really seem to be this sterile environment, and people freeze up if you try to talk to them. In the hostel environment you end up getting to meet so many people in such a short time frame that you can’t really help but have a good time. I have been really in an anti-social sort of mood of late, so this is really what I need to recharge my batteries. Well this and vodka tonics the size you see.

If I am never ever on a sleeper bus again, it will be far too soon. The one thing to remember when dealing with the bus is that the horn is used at the slightest provocation - often I think the driver was simply bored and needed to mentally stimulate himself by playing little tunes. Rather foolishly, I picked the top bunk directly behind the driver thinking it would be convenient for the whole entry/exit thing. By about 4 in the morning I was still awake and franticly fighting the urge to garrote the guy from my perch. I’m only slightly joking. Sleep dep-ing someone who doesn’t sleep well anyway is a recipe for something that ends in ‘-cide’. He and I had a tenuous relationship. When you get on the bus you have to take your shoes off, apparently I went up one too many steps with my shoes on and he slapped me across the thigh and babbled at me in Vietnamese pointing to my feet. I may have said something unpleasant to him, possibly even something rude, but we had this great thing where I didn’t understand him yelling at me and he couldn’t understand me cursing him so we both just stood there and yelled for a while. He made it a point to hold the little plastic bag - in which were meant to keep said shoes - open for all of the girls getting on the bus which meant sitting up a few steps and leering down their shirts as they took their shoes off. All class this guy.

The Vietnamese use the buses for more than just travelers. It functions as an impromptu public transit service - people will just sit in the aisles while we’re all asleep - as well as a parcel courier service. This means that the bus, throughout the course of the night, makes frequent stops where the driver slams on the breaks while blowing the horn - in point of fact any change necessitates the application of the horn - then he engages in a lengthy, loud and heated debate with some random person on the side of the road, a package is tossed in the bus, they give him some money and we rocket off into the night once more, me cursing the dark gods for not granting me a quick death.

Hanoi is the best city I’ve found yet in Vietnam. It’s loud, and I’m talking really really loud when you’re walking along the street, the horns don’t seem to ever end. I’m developing some sort of pathological hatred of horns. Maybe I’m just beating a dead dog here, but really the horn over here has transcended any acceptable balance of usefulness. I’m sorely tempted to set up a shop selling ‘horn fluid’ and telling people they may run out if they don’t stock up.

I stopped by the Vietnam Army Museum for a quick wander. They were supposed to have an old F-111, but apparently no longer. At least I couldn’t find it, and it’s not like they’re small. They did have a UH-1 - Huey , a couple of Migs - Mig-21 and Mig-17 and an A-27 Dragonfly - which later became the strangely named T-37 Tweet, still used for USAF undergraduate pilot training. I had some Firefox moments, dreaming of hopping into the Mig-21 and heading out…too bad there was no engine, they’d mounted in in concrete and all of the guards took a special interest in me for the entirety of my time there. I must look shifty.

The ‘museum’ was mostly written exclusively in Vietnamese, so I mainly just looked at stuff that interested me, not feeling the need to read everything. As I’ve said, it’s a pleasant way to enjoy a museum. You just focus on the things that you find cool. A number of strange looks were thrown at me while I was in the museum area, I think I was the only westerner. By the way the girls at the ticket counter looked at me - then at each other - I assume that most people don’t answer ‘America’ when asked where their from as they buy tickets.

This kinda’ brings up the whole ‘do you find you get negative reactions from the people you meet when you say you’re from America?’ The answer: Nope. The only times I’ve ever even had people be even remotely churlish about where I’m from, they’ve been guys invariably from Canada. I don’t know what it is lately but all the Canadian blokes I’ve met have been arrogant sots, and from me that means something. The ‘American’ stereotype isn’t something I’ve ever been accused of, other than the loud part. Which is true in my case. So it goes.

Speaking of going, my time in Vietnam is rapidly drawing to a close. My next post will be from a completely different area of the world. Where could it be you ask? It could be…

*Updated*: I don’t know if I just haven’t noticed this before or if there’s a bug in the NextGen Gallery thing. Seems to me now that when you go to the next page of a gallery it forces a full page reload - not that big of a deal - but it also jumps back to the top of the page. I find this very annoying, especially on slow connections. Sadly the other options all require Flash and I want something with minimum requirements for you, my gentle audience. So here’s the solution. I’m going to include a link to a Tiltview version of the gallery, as well as keep the older style. If you’ve got the PC and bandwidth to handle the fancy schmancy Tiltview, go for it. If not, you’re sort of stuck with the page jumps until I get more than 20 minutes in an airport to come up with a fix. Trust me, keeping this thing going isn’t as easy as I make it look….and I make it look gooooood. -Nerd->OUT

Tiltviewer link

sometimes i want to move to the other part of town
but to keep from going out of my mind
i move the furniture around
moving furniture around
-the handsome family

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