I’ve mentioned a few times that Hanoi is full of hustle and bustle and that if you don’t have patience then it can easily drive you insane. I saw it happen a few times, but the best one was easily an Englishman who was on the walking tour.
A little background
Walking around Hanoi is an easy and yet nerve wracking experience. Most of the time you’re unable to walk on the pavement as this is reserved for restaurants or scooter parking, the easiest answer is to simply walk along the road, hugging the side whilst hoping that nothing hits you (it happened to me three or four times). You’ll be bombarded by horns tooting and bikes coming so close you can feel their wake, but normally you’re fine and can make good progress.
Crossing the road isn’t that easy as nothing stops and if you wait politely for the traffic to observe the red traffic light, you won’t be going anywhere! The only way to cross is to simply walk, not too fast and not too slow. As soon as you can walk from the curb, do so and don’t stop. Don’t make eye contact, don’t run, don’t dawdle, just walk. The bikes will zoom in front of you and behind. The cars will barrel down slamming their brakes on at the last minute. Horns will blare. Your heart will pound and it’ll be with relief that once again you reached the sanctity of the other side.
So, onto the story, the Englishman
This is possibly one of the funniest episodes I’ve ever seen from another traveller and I had to work very hard to stifle laughter at his plight. He didn’t just loose his cool, he put it in a space-shuttle and sent it to Mars! I just wish I could have filmed it.
It all happened on the walking tour and had wandered for a short while visiting the little temples, part of the old wall, the wholesale market and a few other sites. The new arrivals were clearly getting frustrated by the constant barrage of horns and lacked the confidence to cross the street. It was therefore amusing to the guide watching me easily cross the street and end up waiting for the others who hesitated.
The constant tooting was really grating on one particular Englishman, he was repeatedly asking the guide in his heavy accent why the bikes honked their horns all the time. The guides lack of understanding was frustrating him more. He annoyance levels increased and each horn toot caused he to spin around searching for the culprit. His tolerance plummeted at every junction.
We go to cross another road and the Englishman steps of the pavement into the path of an incoming bike which is forced to stop so the rider gives a toot. The Englishman loses it. He’s furious at the horns and needs to vent his frustration. So, he did.
He stands there jumping up and down on the spot, waving his arms in the air screaming “toot, toot, toot F*****g toot, toot, toot, toot, toot, toot, toot toot toot toot toot toot”. He’s leaping about arms and legs going in all directions. He’s screaming. He’s going red in in the face. His eyes are bulging. He’s making quite the spectacle of himself forcing everyone to look on open mouthed at the odd white man. He runs out of breath, he stops jumping, he stares at the scooter rider, his eyes are wide, his mouth wide open and his chest is heaving.
The biker looks on with a bemused expression on his face. He checks out the white man shaped obstacle in front of him, starts to manoeuvre his way around. Looks up at the Englishman, grins, gives two toots on his horn and disappears off.
The Englishman might have lost his cool completely but I lost my battle against giggling. I’d tried hard, I appreciated the Englishman was frustrated and laughter wouldn’t help, but the bikers reaction was just perfect.
I nearly wet myself from laughing so hard.
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