We arrive in Vietnam
We arrive in Vietnam exhausted. Emotionally drained by China, cold by the frigid rains at 4 °C, tired of the grey skies that have accompanied us for 2 months, our whole body is asking us to rest. Winter is an invitation to retreat, to interiorization. We feel that we need a cocoon outside the cultures and implicit norms, outside the population. Our quotas of patience have vanished in the last few struggles to feel respected.
Arriving in the first agglomeration in Langson, we find cities of human scale. Suddenly, we feel a relief, the softness of this place, the colonial architecture with its bright colours that bring charm to the streets. However, it was enough to eat the local food to plunge once again, into Vietnam’s collective memories.
Then the fine rains typical of northern Vietnam follow us. We thus opt to quickly reach the capital. We slowly enter the periphery as suddenly a veil sets in. With a rather peculiar smell. We find ourselves in a bath of humidity, pollution, dust that burns our eyes. We then learn that pollution is a real public health problem in Vietnam’s cities. We continue and the traffic gets denser and denser, not to mention the horns that create a real hullabaloo. We are dazed by the noise. Now the traffic is chaotic. They accelerate, bypass, overtake to the right, brake, enter the street without looking. This traffic and the noise it creates, gives the feeling of living in an anthill. This partly composes the atmosphere of Hanoi, the beating heart of the North. After a few hours of this stifling noise, we still wonder about our presence in Hanoi. We need to breathe, a place of rest, and to listen to our inner self.
The city of Hanoi is surprising, in its life, in its bustle, in its specialities. Only women with conical hats who carry fruits and vegetables with a large pendulum bring slowness to the scene. The street of the train remains unexpected. It has become one of the capital’s emblems. Every day, the train circulates about 50 centimeters from the entrance door of the houses. The railway track passes through the middle of these small two-storey houses, joined together. For the inhabitants, it is above all a life punctuated by train. Life disappears from the path with each passage and resumes immediately after.
Vietnamese cuisine reflects the country’s cultural diversity, and tastes change according to the regions. However, the nuoc-mâm remains the centre of every meal. This fermented fish sauce is used to season dishes, mixed with a little red chili pepper. It also symbolizes the strong ties in the community and in families, a legacy of Confucianist thought.
In the streets, we see one of the French influences that have become an integral part of the heritage, the baguette. We enjoy them fresh as sandwiches, Nayla and Fibie eating with sparkling eyes this delicacy