The flight to Hanoi is fairly tough, especially back in economy class. You read your magazine, then your read your book, then you watch the good movies, then you nap, then you watch the bad movies, then you eat some kind of chicken, then you watch the Korean TV shows, then you read the inflight catalog, then you land in Hong Kong.
It’s a whole other day, you want breakfast but it’s dinner time, you shop for gold Rolexes and look at perfume displays and then you get back on the plane again. It’s a different plane supposedly, but whatever.
Hanoi isn’t quite like any other place I’ve been. It’s crazy like Bangkok, but more down-to-earth. It’s vibrant like Beijing, but less ambitious. It’s dusty like Kuala Lumpur, but without face veils. It’s warm like Doha, but no Maserati showrooms.
Most days seem foggy but that’s actually motor fumes and wood smoke. The Air Quality Index is 45 in New York. In Hanoi, it’s 360.
Scooters mosquito past all night and day, vast swarms of them stacked high with egg cartons, toolboxes, slim dogs, kettles of fish, and toddlers. If people wear helmets at all, they look to be made of plastic, covered with flowers, or manga characters, like inverted kindergarten lunch pails.
(To be continued, probably tomorrow)