It appears that the Vietnamese have stylized the face mask. You know...the one that protects your nose and mouth from foreign particles entering, be they germs or exhaust fumes. Anyways...just in case you've always wanted one, they now come in all sorts of shapes, colours and patterns. Hmmm...
I've never in my life seen sooooo many motorbikes as there are here (at least in Ha Noi). I've experienced crazy driving in other places...Beijing stands out as probably the craziest, but its beyond nuts here. There are so many bikes, intersections with 5, 6 or 7 random streets all converging in a "roundabout" intersection where the round part consists of a 2ft diameter sort of circle in the middle. Picture motor bikes going in every which direction, including straight through the "roundabout" and yet...they don't hit each other nor do they even seem to get mad! Little horn honks from everyone, but it all seems to work! Crossing streets is a bit of adventure, but one solved by keeping a consistent speed as the bikes and cars will just go around you. Its quite a success to make it across without getting honked at!
Yesterday while near the Hoan Kiem lake here in Ha Noi, we noticed hundreds of people gathering near the edge trying to get a look at something in the water. So we wandered over, curious as to what it might be. We could see the little bubbles moving around and the crowd, which was growing by the second moved in unison keeping a close eye on the water. Then, we saw the giant turtle...she (as we learned later) poked her head out of the water a couple times, receiving great excitement from the crowd. More and more people rushed over and everyone had their phones and cameras to take photos. We later learned that the turtle is one of only 4 left in the world, and extremely endangered species of soft-shelled, freshwater turtle. The turtle is over 100 years old and weighs several hundred pounds, it is believed that the turtle is the same mythical turtle that helped a Vietnamese king fend off the Chinese nearly six centuries ago. The Vietnamese believe its great luck to see the turtle who doesn't emerge very often!
It's Sunday night here now...tomorrow morning we are doing a Vietnamese cooking class with an English couple we met here and then we meet up with Geoff and Laura tomorrow afternoon!!!
A few pics of delicious pho!!