Dear Hanoi

Dear Hanoi,

You are ugly. You are ugly but in your own way you stand alone from everywhere else. Motorbikes whizzing around like ants, moving in what looks like chaos from a distance but at a closer look works for the people who use it. Your streets are narrow with every available inch of space being used. Welders next to barbers next to clothing shops next to street food vendors. Your “restaurants” are just living rooms with tiny plastic chairs and menus with 2 items on them. Pho and Pho Boa. At first I thought that this confusion was just me being a dumb American but no. I haven’t gotten so sick of food since my freshman year living in the dorms. The same rotation every week, but here it was a daily rotation. Bun Mi’s for breakfast, pho for lunch and pho for dinner. Eventually you forced me to branch out, spend a bit more money to get different cuisines, even spending as much as $7 for a pizza. I love the country but this was not the Asian fusion cuisine I believed would change my taste buds forever.

I appreciate the hard working demeanor of your city. Whenever I got up at sunrise to walk around before the heat of the day and take pictures the city was already abuzz with trucks moving seafood caught the night before on the coast and old citizens setting up there fruit stands and opening the metal accordion shop doors to keep the thieves out. For me, your most unique feature is your side walks. A better name may be your no mans land. These first come first serve slabs of granite and stone act as an extension of shops, parking lots, extension of the street in some parts and most certainly not a place for walking in a straight line. When I wasn’t being stopped by a motorbike or someone calling me into there store, it was a rats nest of wires that would droop down from the rooftops. Safety is not your first priority but I guess that’s what makes you, you. All said and done I think that you were too much for me, a first destination out of the US you shouldn’t be and a heavy disclaimer to all who enter is necessary. Thank you for being my trial by fire.



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