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Monday, July 8, 2013

A Sunday morning stroll through Hanoi

You wake up warm and snug in bed in Hanoi's Old Quarter on a slightly overcast, drizzly Sunday morning. 

You wonder: what does this day hold?

You eat breakfast and nurse your coffee at your hotel's rooftop restaurant. 

A thunderstorm rolls in and out.

The clouds part and there it is: blue sky and fleeting peeks of sunshine.

You shower and dress and you're in no hurry.

You're an explorer, in a foreign city and country, and you have no plans or agenda.

You grab your map and venture out with no care in the world except thoughts of more coffee.

You stroll hand in hand through the Old Quarter and appreciate its French architecture.

You watch locals live their lives: eat, drink, work, laugh, shop, be.

You think it's beautiful and real and stunning.

Even in the cramped, busy streets you find morsels of beauty.

The red shutter door. The vine spilling down the side of a building. The sound of women laughing, real and hardy.

You come across The Temple of Literature and think: how cool!

You wander across the eight lane street very, very carefully, mostly with your husband being a major control freak and throwing out his arm and jerking you this way and that to avoid imminent collision with scooters.

Then, your heart melts when you see this temple is in the middle of a lake and you get to cross an adorable red bridge to get to it.

Then, as always, you wish you were the only people in the world so you could explore this wonder on your own instead of battling crowds.

Such is the life of a modern day explorer in the age of jet planes and tour buses.

You wander around the temple and take in the scent of incense and feel like an intruder to the locals who come to use the temple for its actual intended purposes.

Still, you can't help but watch the bowing and the chanting and the offering of gifts and the burning of money and the lighting and waving of incense.

After having your fill of the temple, you wander back over the cute red bridge and decide to meander around the lake.

You see some kids training their dog how to pay Frisbee and think: let's sit down and watch.

So you do.

This is the life of you, the traveler.

Each day is an opportunity to watch and learn and do.

Each day, however small and slow, is filled with adventure. 
And for this, you feel like the luckiest person in the world. 

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