Not my favorite destination upon arrival, Hanoi turned out to be a comfortable place to live for a couple of weeks after I became accustomed to the loud noises, smog and chaotic volume of unyielding traffic. I was in a three bedroom apartment across from the Daewoo Center, a skyscraper/department store/grocery store. The heart of Hanoi and the center which draws most of the tourism is about 20 minutes away from where I was. I joined a gym twenty minutes walk away and spent most of my time in Hanoi focused on cooking, eating and lifting. I got a new personal best on my back squat in Thailand the previous month and wanted to keep my momentum going.
Highlights of Hanoi included the water puppet show (every time I say “water puppets” I smile — the concept itself is entertaining in and of itself), custom-ordering dress shirts and pants from a local tailor (they took 10 different measurements on my upper-body alone), doing Hatha yoga in a class of Vietnamese women, taught by an Indian instructor, in English and this incredibly strange interpretive dance performance that I attended.
I’ve gotta say – for all the romanticism ascribed to Vietnam by post-war America — I just didn’t feel it. Sure it’s a 2nd world foreign country with a rich, ancient and increasingly modern culture; the world is full of them. I think I’ve reached the point in my life where smog and weird things being transported on scooters is charmingly endearing. I’m really glad that I traveled as much as I could when I was younger — because these days eating a street-side bahn mi made of dog meat while commuting on the back of a scooter taxi just isn’t what I want to be doing. I barely scratched the surface of Hanoi let alone Vietnam — that being said there are more places I’d rather explore before I return here.