Travel : A Walk in Hanoi


It pours non-stop when we are in Hanoi. The streets are tight, clean, and slick with new rain.  Everyone is wearing thin plastic rain ponchos in every color and despite the weather, I notice open-toed shoes everywhere. No one seems phased by the downpour.  It's near evening and men are drinking egg coffee on plastic stools, cigarettes moving up and down from their mouths.  

 I've been looking for this egg coffee and craving an opportunity to still myself because everything in Hanoi seems in constant motion--wheels and bodies and even food as it travels heavy on the shoulders of women carrying well-balanced baskets.  My eyes are tired from looking all the time.  

The egg coffee is sweet and orange scented.  The yolks have been furiously whisked and settled at a ribbon consistency, making my coffee almost butter yellow.  The condensed milk is thick and comforting. It feels like velvet going down my throat and I loosen from the cold, just a little bit.   

The markets are sprawling and endless.  Baskets are stacked with fruit in pyramidal formations, fish are being cleaned and gutted, and thin sheets of rice noodles are gently bubbling over flat skillets like the most ethereal crepes. 

The tofu vendor signals me over and he unwraps the warm tofu from its cheese cloth, slices off a small cube.  Fresh tofu always seems impossibly light to me.  Still steaming tofu on a rainy day, a cubed sized pleasure; it's perfect.  

The woman selling whole pineapples on top of her bicycle is hacking at the fruit with expert precision and she isn't even looking.  She spirals her knife around the fruit and in seconds she's cut out all the eyes.  She sells the pineapples in plastic bags and cuts the fruit into finger-sized wedges before serving.

The traffic is overwhelming and incredible.  The motorcycles are braiding through one another and the sound is everything you'd imagine it to be.  The traffic sounds to me like the sonic equivalent of neon: bright, urgent, whirling. Everything stirs here and I'm happy to be stirring with it, going soft with the rain and sound of plastic and smell of wet straw baskets.  

Saehee