Two months already! Here are a few odd little things that come up in everyday life in Hanoi… 1) Shsssssh. No talking on the public bus. Didn’t realize this at first and was properly chastised by the ticket collector. 2) Age is respected big time. I’m always offered a seat on the bus, even if it’s packed. It will be hard to get back on the TTC. 3) Loud speakers blaring announcements on the street, 7 am and 7 pm. Lately it’s been public service reports interspersed with a little light opera. 4) Alcohol containing pickled snakes and lizards. Makes manly men even more manly. 5) Kem, or ice cream, comes in flavours such as green sticky rice, durian (yech), and soursop. 6) Raincoats. Every tiny storefront sells ‘em because the rain comes up fast. They are like sauna suits and make you very sweaty. I prefer just to get wet. 7) You see and hear very few birds. Why? Because song birds are caught and sold for hundreds of dollars. Owners take them to cafes and they have singing contests with them.
8) Fish in the lake. I see many jumping every day and often get a glimpse of beautiful golden coy. There are religious rituals throughout the year that demand people release a live fish into the water. Of course, there are lots of people with fishing poles around too.9) There’s a huge flower market and flower business in general. These are not to decorate your home, but are for altars that also contain fruit, drinks and sometimes even Choco-Pies. They’re also used to signify big events, like the store opening shot at the beginning of this blog post. 10) Pop up street markets. These are filled with vendors selling vegetables, fish and fruit. Some offer clothes and housewares. They are usually illegal and the cops come out regularly with whistles, barking at them to break it up. The markets always come back.