Thursday, 16 October 2014

After one week in Hanoi,

I'm getting used to looking over my left shoulder before I cross the road to avoid death-or-severe-injury by right-hand-turning motorbike.  

I'm getting used to not using the tap water to brush my teeth, although it still feels odd. 

I'm learning that the first price quoted is not the price I should pay.  Neither is the second, or the third. 

I'm learning how to insist.  

I'm getting used to sitting on a plastic stool on the sidewalk beside a buzzing street and calling it a restaurant, (but I'm not getting used to the noise or the smell of the traffic.  My nose is a faucet on full blast that won't stop running unless I hide inside with the windows closed).

I'm still surprised by the sunset at 6pm, how it goes from light to dark in the space of 15 minutes.  

And I've learned that if I wear a dress the colour of the Vietnamese flag and have long hair falling halfway down my back, I will be stopped more often by street sellers, motor bike taxi drivers, and young people wanting to take pictures and practice their English with Taylor Swift (and I have since retired said dress). 

I've discovered fruit and crushed ice mixed with coconut milk and condensed milk.

I've learned to read enough food vocabulary to decipher a menu board, and enough street vocabulary to know when I am passing a motorbike wash (which is often) or a guest house (less often).  

I've ordered from a restaurant that had no menu in comprehensible English and gotten what I wanted - two varieties very delicious seafood-free dumplings at a good price.    

But I've also eaten in a restaurant that had no menu at all, and accidentally ordered a chicken, (the entire chicken, feet, neck, innards, everything), at a terrible price.  Lesson learned.  

I'm getting used to eating with chopsticks and a little spoon.

And I'm getting used to eating noodles in soup for breakfast.

But I'm still surprised by turtles for sale in the market, or mattresses traveling on the back of motorbikes.