Then five locals - including a very disgruntled baby with extremely healthy vocal cords - cram themselves, and their market purchased goodies, bags and other bits and pieces, into the rear with us whilst three more plus the driver hop into the front seat. On the outside, the vehicle may look like a standard fourteen seater, but really it’s just a sardine can in disguise. We trundle down the mountain at a cracking pace, crushing each other at every tight corner and it soon doesn’t take long before the first sign of motion-sickness emerges….and doesn’t let up for the whole of the trip. I try to ignore the flinging of plastic bag after plastic bag of sick tossed out the window (and into oncoming traffic).
Part way down, we stop and pick up another passenger. There is absolutely no room for her, but she squeezes in, stands on the step of the van and off we go. We soon reach a small village where we stop and a local chap hops out. Two more take his place. I’m praying for an end. My legs have seized up and my nose is finding it hard to take in the scent of vomit. Two and half hours later we are delivered to Lao Cai.
Unfortunately the hell-trip is far from over. A few hours later we’re on the train, jolting down the line to
I’m still scratching myself stupid with the bedbug bites from the previous
night-train, and after searching every corner of the cabin, pulling the sheets
and bedding apart, we then lie almost comatose with all the lights blazing for
the whole of the trip. There will be no more feasting. Hanoi
Dawn is just breaking over
when we arrive but we don’t find a sleeping city. Even at 4:30am Hanoi
is whirling about. The streets are filled with runners – ‘they’re game’ I
think, casting my mind back to the obstacles on footpaths – and cyclists in
lycra (even here they have mamil’s!) Bikes and scooters filled with produce zip
around and street markets are a hive of activity. Amongst it all however, plays
out a choreographic scene that looks oddly out of place with the frantic pace.
The graceful wave and bend of t’ai chi flows from parks, footpaths and on
street corners. Hundreds of tranquil faces stare into space, some by
themselves, others in long lines. Hanoi