Our first morning in Vietnam. We took a slow stroll (our jet-lagged bodies couldn’t handle more) through the nearby Old Quarter and quickly learned that the signature sound of Hanoi is the beep-beep of motorbikes warning pedestrians and other scooter riders away. Scooters parked on sidewalks often force pedestrians onto the crowded streets. There are few traffic signals and everybody plays chicken to decide who gets the right of way.
The cacophony of the street contrasted with the pleasantness of Hoan Kiem Lake, a popular respite in the center of the Old Quarter where the streets are blocked off on weekends, creating a safe haven for pedestrians. We were stopped multiple times by children wanting to practice their English. Most had a script of questions they asked, writing down our answers or marking them on a checklist.