Blink of an Eye

It is hard to believe that seven days from now Arin and I will be home. It sounds so cliche, but it really does seem like yesterday when Arin and I were sitting on the deck of Zazen Bungalows in Ko Samui Thailand saying to ourselves, "I can't believe we are going to be traveling for six weeks." How come six weeks seems like such a long time when looking forward, but it just a blink of the eye when looking back? It seems unfair, and somewhat unjust. Arin and I have experienced and seen too many things for it to seem like we just got here. It just doesn't make a whole lotta sense if you ask me.

But, se la vi.

Arin and I are now safely in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is an amazing city to say the least, but what surprises me more than anything is how Western it is. It feels in some respects like an Asian version of Paris (only a lot smaller). I say that because, unlike the rest of Vietnam, the French colonial influence here is so ubiquitous. I would have expected the South, especially a city like Saigon, whose exposure to Western culture, trade, and politics is much more profound, to feel more Western...

Time passes. Four days to be exact when Byrne, our hero, finds time to continue this entry...

Holy moly. My first impression of Hanoi is so completely different from the one I have now. But then again, my opinion is being shaped right now by spending so much time walking the streets and in taxis - an experience like none other. The roads of Hanoi is nothing short of complete anarchy except for the rare street light, which offers little more than a suggestion to "stop" and to "go" to the thousands of motor bikes swarming this city.

The air is punctuated by a constant buzz of honking. The anthropologist in me as been trying to understand the systemology of honking here, but after 6 days, I have been unable to determine any system at work whatsoever - except to say that people honk sometimes to say what you might expect, like "I am right behind you," "get the hell out of my way," "watch out," or "I am about to pass you... I am passing you... I am passing you... I am passing you... I just passed you... I passed you a second ago... I passed you but simply want to keep honking." Honking here has become as effective as car alarms have become in the United States which is to say that most people are completely numb to it.

I only wish I had a tape recorder, because words simply don't do all the honking justice. I am sure people are saying, "surely, Byrne, people don't honk all the time?" To which I can only say, "yes they do. And don't call me Shirley."