Hello from Vietnam! Justin, Biba and I are staying with our lovely friends Renwick, Elsa and their 14 month old Azy. They live in a great big apartment in Hanoi which is in the north of the country. It’s a bustling busy city but more conservative than Ho Chi Min city (or Saigon) in the south which is the economic capital and, so we are told, more maverick. Hanoi is more traditional. The streets are crazy with scooters(but every one wears helmets), buses, taxis, ladies in conical hats on old school bicycles over loaded with stunning flowers, women with weighing scale style baskets on their shoulders selling everything from plastic pots to mangoes.
It’s been quite a challenge travelling with Biba who will be one on Saturday. The flight was bearable but the baby jet lag ever since has meant we’ve had to review quite a few of our plans as she wakes up for a good three or four hours in the night so we’re knackered the next day! So we’ve decided to concentrate on Hanoi and some of the surroundings and then have a trip to Ha Long Bay planned at the weekend when we’re all going to hire a boat together and cruise the bay, sleeping and eating on board. (You can see the bay at the end of the Top Gear Vietnam special – it looks incredible)
That said travelling with her has been a joy on a lot of other levels – the Vietnamese really love babies (especially blonde ones who are meant to be good luck) and if we go to a café they make a huge fuss of her and usually just grab her off us and we can drink our mango smoothy in peace! Pushing the buggy down the scooter riddled streets with no pavements people pop out of shops at every meter to touch her and entertain her with smiles and clapping. I guess some babies might find it a bit overwhelming but Biba just laps it up!
Justin, Biba and I ventured out alone today without our friends to guide us (considering the sleep deprivation this was a brave move!) but we managed to have a really nice afternoon nosing around the old town seeing the streets of shoes shops, jewellery shops, button shops or sunglass shops (one product per street) and managing to cross 5 or six lanes of busy fast moving traffic to get to the promenade by Huan Kiem Lake. You just walk out and move into the gaps between the traffic and somehow you arrive at the other side – when you watch other people do it, it looks like complete magic and you can’t believe they’ve made it in one piece!
I will write more the next time I’m awake in the middle of the night after finally settling the tiny monster! (Oh god is that crying I hear…)