In Hanoi the sip lid hole is an inconvenience.
Every single coffee shop offering takeaway has a roll of tape at the counter. Your coffee is prepared, lidded and the hole, or holes, are taped to stop spillage. The cup is bagged and the bag hooked onto your motorbike as you continue your journey to work or home.
People don’t walk in Hanoi. Nobody strolls sipping from a takeaway latte.
This is what all those tourist traffic tales and tips for crossing roads don’t get. Yes there are ways to cross the road, but most of us will go months between crossings. Hanoians don’t cross roads. When you literally park your bike in your kitchen, then on the pavement outside work, a cafe, shop or bar, why would you?
Even if you’d like to walk you can’t. The pavements are full of bikes.
The coffee is for the destination. Not the journey.
I’ve recently found myself succumbing to that Vietnamese start-the-day stretch – an up and at ‘em twist with a bent knee kick, first left then right.
In addition, someone recently told me most headaches are caused by stiff neck muscles so, as a frequent sufferer, I occasionally attempt the trying to touch your shoulder with your ear thing.
Vietnamese customers at my gym stretch so much that it’s hard to know where the stretching stops and real exercise starts. Perhaps it’s straying beyond stretching into actual yoga territory. Perhaps the stretching is the exercise.
At Yakushi they bend and stretch me and on occasions stick needles in me to try and sort out my back. It does seem to be improving though that could equally be down to increased gym visits and subsequent weight loss. The back doesn’t hurt any more but on occasions it does feel stiff which necessitates yet more stretching. Bending backwards over an exercise ball brings a certain vertebrae pleasing relief.
Did living in Asia make me learn the importance of stretching? Did living in Asia make me need to stretch – a lack of brisk walks due to the hot, humid Hanoi summer perhaps?
Do I just need to stretch more because I’m getting old? It’s not the first time I’ve been confused as to whether changes I am noting in myself are down to age or location.
Or, I suppose, generic expat flakiness.
This pic popped up on Facebook this week and I asked if I could include it on my blog.
It’s a pic of an old British Council colleague with friends on tops of Vietnam’s highest peak Fansipan.
I was going to tell you all the things I love about this picture of young Vietnamese people but you can probably work that out for yourself. As a kids’ TV announcer would say – see how many you can spot?
The email below follows this post. It’s a clear demonstration how easily or, not, I can be bought. I’d shamelessy turn up with a bag of tennis balls for a couple of lobster dinners. Collecting tennis balls in return for a glass of wine would only make me feel like an alcoholic. Still, it’s nice to get a reply – thanks Sheraton folks. And yes I did giggle at the concept of guests with misplaced balls and no, no disturbance caused. All cool.
Dear Mr. Jackson,
Greetings from the Starwood Social Media Team.
We appreciate you highlighting the blog post on the tennis balls to us and we hope these balls have not caused any disturbances to your daily routine.
In addition, we have also forwarded your comments to the Hotel Manager at the Sheraton Hanoi. Unfortunately, as these balls belong to the staying guests and not the hotel itself, we would not be able to identify which guest has misplaced their balls and thus accede to your request for a lobster dinner.
Thank you once again for reaching out to us.
By the way the hotel manager Mr. Paul Tsuji wondered if you are able to return the balls to the fitness centre and stop by the lobby lounge for two glasses of wine, with compliments from the hotel. Do let us know.
Specialist, Social Media
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide