International Party Animal
The New Year is still four-and-a-half hours away in Hanoi, but the streets are filling with people and excitement is in the air. Actually, the streets of Old Hanoi are always filled with people and there can be few places on this planet any more exciting - at any hour of any day! But tonight most of the locals are ending their sentences with "Happy New Year!" One poor lady who was trying to sell me street food wished me "Merry Christmas!"
The soundtrack of Vietnam is honking horns - a long, never-ending cacophony of honking horns!
An hour ago I was out among the cars and motorbikes, weaving my way through the tourists and street peddlers, when a woman approached me trying to sell a 3X tee-shirt. I told her I might buy shirts for my littlest grandsons, because I saw that she had nothing small and would have to let me go. But no, she persisted and told me that she had the perfect shirts at her store. "You follow me."
I followed thinking that we were just going across the street. We did cross the street, then walked a block, then took a turn and walked two more blocks, and then turned up a long dark alley with many peddlers lurking in the shadows.
(At this point I knew that I was probably in trouble. It reminded me of the time a couple of years ago when Carla (Turnbough) Brown and I were in New York City, and she wanted to go into Chinatown to buy some knockoff purses. We found a "saleslady" who led us to a side street where she told me to wait on the corner while she walked Carla on down the street and had her climb into the back of a van. Ten minutes later my friend emerged smiling with a couple of fine bargains.)
So, back in the alley in Old Hanoi, my guide finally reached her "store," which turned out to be a couple of plastic bags hanging from a motorbike. She pulled out two hand-embroidered shirts and told me that she and her poor teenage daughter had spent hours and hours making them. I finally bought them - on the condition that she lead me back to where she found me.
Sebastian and Judah, I hope you like your shirts. Pa Rock had to be very brave to get them for you!
I will be back out on the streets at midnight!
Happy New Year, Vietnam!