03 Apr First Impressions: Hanoi Vietnam
We’ve been in Hanoi, Vietnam for the last couple of days, and we’re loving it. It’s our first time in Asia, our first time in Vietnam, and it’s been a huge blessing to be staying with our good friends Major and Karen who are here doing international development work. It’s been a bit of a dream these past couple of days experiencing a whole new culture and adjusting to the time change. Here are some of my first impressions.
Chaos and Harmony
Hanoi is the perfect example of organized chaos. A perfect blend and balance of many things that do and don’t make sense.
For example, take a look at the picture above. At any given point, Hanoi’s streets are filled with mopeds, motorcycles, cars, and buses. It’s an endless sea with no painted lines. I can stare at traffic here all day, amazed at how many people are on the road, how effortlessly they all weave and dodge and somehow not hit each other or pedestrians. That’s right. Not only do they have to avoid each other, which is a truly amazing feat, but somehow, pedestrians cross along huge crowded roads at will amongst the endless lines of vehicles. Think of the video game frogger, but live action. It’s crazy.
And yet somehow it works. (We’ll post a video of what it’s like to cross a busy street soon.)
Another good example of this balance of chaos and harmony is in the amazing food. At any given meal, you have tons of little dishes filled with all sorts of ingredients, varying in flavor, spiciness, temperature, and texture. You then take bits from each little dish and combine them in your bowl to make your meal. It’s counter-cultural to the American style of eating where each dish is eaten separately. Here, you create multiple different combinations of flavors depending on your preferences. The combinations are out of this world. Sweet, spicy, savory, tangy, sour, and bitter. What’s interesting is that each dish is ok by itself, but combined, it’s really, really good.
“This is Awesome”
Michelle told me I’m in the “honeymoon phase” of cultural adjustment in Hanoi which is probably true. I’m fascinated by this city and its people. It’s only been a few days, but it’s been so much fun to experience new things and draw a lot of comparisons to other cities and countries that we know. These last few days reminded me what I love about travel: the ability to learn about other cultures, to be humbled with how big our world is, to be present in the moment, and to be appreciative of all things.
We still have a couple weeks left, but I’m already excited to come back again another time. Another thing that makes sense and doesn’t make sense!
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