The city is waking up and so am I.
I step out into it and the words of a colleague come back to me: “Working in organisational development, we have to dance with the system. You move with it as it moves.” And to my outsider eyes, that is exactly the rhythm and the beat of this country.
Our tour guide’s first words after landing in Hanoi: “To move through the city, the first thing you need to know is crossing the street. The flow never stops. You look for a lull and you begin crossing, you never stop. You move forward, the rest will swerve around you. Whatever you do, just keep moving forward.” These are golden words to live by.
The river of mopeds, cars and packed tourist buses join and exit currents throughout the city via whirlpools, sucking them in, mingling them about, then spitting them back out in their intended direction of travel.
This ongoing current is bordered with sidewalks paved for moped parking and additional selling space. Mopeds pull off to the side for shopping, slowly bargaining and wheeling from stand to stand, packing in a vibrant bouquet of plastic bags of flowers, meat, vegetables and fruit. People gather on low red plastic stools, knees up around their chins, encircled in conversation and laughter, chopsticks poised between steaming bowls of pho and anticipating mouths.
When you are here, take the time to soak it in, observe, then perhaps retreat into a nice cool cafe for a Vietnamese coffee to celebrate surviving your first street crossing 🙂