DO NOT STOP!
30.10.2010 - 05.11.2010
Surely the most useful and relevant advice in any guidebook about Hanoi is this little gem that I recall reading somewhere: stride purposefully and DO NOT STOP.
A guidebook can help you to decide in advance what you want to see. For me it was the Old Quarter, the French Quarter, Temple of Literature and so on. What the guidebooks can't really prepare you for is the realisation that you are no longer in any position to be crossing the street on your own, despite having been doing it most of your life. OK that's an exaggeration, but coupled with a bit of jetlag and general tiredness, it's not far from the truth.
And it's not so much the cars (of which there are relatively few) as the scooters. Traffic control does nothing to sort the motorists from the scooterists from the peds - it just gives one the sense that they have the upper hand, if only for a moment. But it all seems to work, with everyone moving slowly (but not too much so) but steadily forward, and not an accident in sight.
So, gritting my teeth, I took this sage piece of advice and crossed the 'must see' Hanoi sights off my list.