Hanoiying

Posted on January 30, 2006

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28/1/06

Bloody hell. I heard it was going to be one of the hottest summers for a while. I even had the ken myself that it just might be. You know, in the bones.

Well, more believably, Geelong had some sunny, even hot, spring days way back in september and november. It all felt like we were heading for a toasty summer, but 43 is ridiculous. Maybe its just Geelong, the exception to many rules.

You see, meanwhile i’m in Hanoi, my second day in Vietnam, and its a mild 23 semi-cloudy semi clear and i’ve spent the monring getting drunk with my hotel people. as in the staff. you see its the lead up to Tet, and everyone is gettting excited and drunk well in advance of the actual event. a mumbled chuc mung nam moi (happy new year) was enough to get me into a bottoms up beer drinking circle with the staff and their friends first thing in my admittedly late morning. some of them spoke good english, some not so. I was offered some unidentifiable food and funny cross cultural conversation. Learnt some manners, and some things you don’t do, and feel much more socially equipped for Vietnam now.

But i also have the beginnings of a 4 pm hangover.

I’m home in mid feb. More than likely the 15th. Can’t change the dam tickets even though i’d love to spend more time here.

Postcript: A few days after i initially wrote the above, i’m still in Hanoi. I’ve seen the Tet fireworks, i’ve met a lot of expats, and i’ve gotten very little monument action or museum time because as i’ve explained already, its Tet. Everything’s shut. Can’t get laundry done. Starting to smell. Good heavens, i may have to handwash.

Even my hotel is shut. No jokes. I’m sitting in the lobby on the free computer, and big unfriendly metal front door grille (very typical of Hanoi, after 11pm, everything looks like a closed shopping centre expecting a riot) is actually shut. Not sure if i’m allowed out yet.

But now its Monday and things are apparently coming back to life. After a failed bid at seeing the city circus, i’ve just heard that Hanoi Cirque Centrale is apparently reopening tonight.

The one thing that didn’t close, apart from expat bars, was the Munipal Water Puppets, go see it, its beautiful and fun. Actually the puppets were slightly outdone by the music. Well, for me the puppets were totally eclipsed by the very skilful music live accompaniment. I’d never appreciated Vietnamese classical/traditional music until then. But I can now say with confidence that – minus the synthesisers and general elevator music atmosphere that seems to surround all of the Vietnamese music i’d heard previously – its brilliant stuff. Beautiful, soaring melodies, sophisticated textures and delicate complexity. Eerie echoes of Gaelic, Indian and Turkish music as well. And all played on instruments that are extremely difficult to even fiddle aimlessly with, as i went and did the next day. I tried every traditional instrument in the shop, banjo things, bow and string type things, a harmonic wobble stick thing, and many more besides, and i was completely undone by all of them. So much respect to the water puppet guys.

Anyway, later.

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