I wasn't going to include this particular post, since I did other, more exciting things with old firecracker Liz than wander around the sprawling streets of Hanoi. However, I realised I haven't ever - in my life - posted any photographs set in actual Hanoi. So here it is, the dust, the electrical wiring, the traffic and the dreamy architecture (hidden behind the concrete boxes).
Here is my disclaimer: I really love Hanoi.
Here is my rant: many of my pals and I agree that as creatures, as little*, soft mammals, with lungs and other organs and pores, Hanoi doesn't feel good. As an animal, you instinctively know you should be getting out as fast as your paws can carry you. The trees do exist, but they are old survivors, trees who have learned to grow around things and through things. The grass is covered with a light film of dust, and you're not allowed on it anyway. The lake is beautiful, but the fish in it are floating, dead and stuffed to the gills with mercury. The air sometimes brings me to sudden and involuntary tears.
* Quite large mammals really, on a size chart of mammals, or perhaps average sized (somewhere between a marmoset and a humpback whale).
So, as much as my intellectual self, disconnected from my body, loves this city and the weird, organic urban sprawl; the people who work in and through the cracks in the system, new neighbours who greet me every time they see me, the rat who shrieks when my bicycle comes around the corner and proceeds to promptly scamper down my alleyway at top-speed (there but for the grace of God go I). I love the way humans have found ways to exist around and on top of each other, and how carefully they manage that space. How conscious they are and how little they intrude on each other. It is seriously an art and it is one which is distinctly foreign for a girl from small-town New Zealand.
As much as I love all of those things, and know I will always be drawn back to old Hanoi, I'm also sure I would never stay here forever. Carcinogens notwithstanding, the way I felt in the ocean on the coast near Hoi An reminded me that I am not a brain on a stick. I am a mammal, not even always that sentient, and I'd like to frolic.
|Liz dreams of gluten-free trees and crashing waves|