Singapore Adventure

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Morning Song of Hanoi
by venitha

Dawn creeps lazily into our hotel room, damp gray fingers curling through the window slats, slowly outlining the elaborate moldings of the ceiling above. I listen for the inevitable raucous crowing of a cock, but I hear only the outraged squealing brakes of a bicycle, the rhythmic shishing scrape of a broom, the beloved soft snore of a husband.

My handphone reveals it to be... oh, crap, I have no idea. Is it an hour earlier in Hanoi or an hour later? Did I change my watch or my phone? Or neither or both? A pox on Asia for preferring beauty (my handphone is adorable) over brains (I have to set its time myself), low prices over quality, beans and corn over chocolate.

The me-meep of a passing xe om diverts me from my internal rant, reminding me instead of our cyclo driver yesterday, hornless, but undeterred. , he shouted me-meep! Laughing, Jim and I echoed him.

Soft music begins to play, haunting and beautiful and vastly superior to the in-need-of-a-gong show we were appalled by last night. Is it an ice cream man? I can only hope. Hanoi has the best dark chocolate ice cream. A man? Mmmm... the noodle bowls are nearly as scrumptious as the ice cream. Morning tai chi? Hey, that would be worthy of a picture!

Barefoot and tousle-haired, still in my pajamas, I step out onto our sunny balcony and look down upon the Old Quarter three stories below. There is no tai chi, but the morning street scene is just as captivating. A girl and her mother, both also clad in what I can only call pajamas, walk hand-in-hand, each clasping a small plastic bag. I wonder what they've got. A yawning man tends an enormous pot over a tiny stove. Will it ever boil? A goth teenager rides on the back of scooter, holding a half-eaten banana in one hand, SMSing furiously with the other. Now there's a talent.

Eventually, the balcony becomes uncomfortably warm, the scooters outnumber the pedestrians, and the watched pot boils. When the lovely music is replaced by the harsh reality of the morning news, I go back inside to wake up Jim.


We spent nearly a week in Vietnam in October.

It's very common for women and girls to dress like this in many southeast Asian countries, though not, to my knowledge, in Singapore. Can someone please explain this? I mean, these are pajamas, right? I took this picture in Cambodia, where the mother of these two girls asked if she could take a picture of her daughters - dressed like this - with Jim. He agreed, and he has not yet, to my knowledge, been blackmailed.