Stepping out of Hanoi Airport, that initial contact with the heat and humidity immediately had me retracting my eagerness to leave the Christchurch cold. The next 24 hours were largely spent taking cold showers and air conditioning my body back to a comfortable temperature. A little over a week later, I’m embracing the general sweating, sweat-stained clothing and my permanently sticky skin. I don’t even feel embarrassment for the wet bum remnants I’m leaving behind for the next seat occupier.
We’ve been conveniently put up in Tung Trang Hotel, right in the heart of the Old Quarter, surrounded by an abundance of cafes, eateries, general vendors and plenty of traffic and street action. Around the corner, the narrow laneways turn into a bustling market during the day and shoppers conveniently pass through for their meat and vegetables while on their scooters.
Come night time, the streets are filled with delicious smells and food is served both indoors and out on the footpath. Food vendors set up wherever space permits and diners fill the red and blue plastic tables. Weekends bring on the night market and a 3km stretch of road is shut off for a vibrant assortment of food, clothing and other items.
Fairly spoilt when it comes to dining options, I’m slowly ticking off items like Pho, Bun Cuon, Bun Bo Nam Bo, Banh Mi and plenty of Ca Phe. However, when life gets a wee bit hard, there’s a good selection of western cafes to fall back on.
My initial fear of crossing roads has been replaced by an awkwardly feigned confidence – the advice I’ve been given is just keep going and don’t step back. However, my main mode of transport under this heat is Grab, the Uber of South East Asia. Getting around on Grab Bikes is extremely cheap and a very efficient commute in peak hour traffic.
It’s all starting to feel quite familiar and in the words of Annie, because yes quote orphans in musicals when you can, “I think I’m gonna like it here”.