Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Plastic Swans and Fishing Poles

It's raining again in Hanoi and I watched the motor cyclists negotiating the slippery streets this morning as I breakfasted in the Sofitel hotel.

Each rider is wearing an over large poncho which resembles a large plastic ground sheet and flaps dangerously near the rear wheel as they progress.

The heads of pillion passengers (and there are quite a few) emerge from a rear flap in the ground sheet and it is not unusual to see large cases of bundles of goods wedged between the rider and his or her passenger.

The roads are filthy and I can only imagine in what condition they arrive at their destination.

Last evening there was a temporary clearing of the clouds so I went for a stroll alomng the foreshore of West Lake and watched families in swan peddle boats enjoying the climatic respite.  Nearby a group of school boys were crouched over a tortoise that they were teasing with a stick.

There were isolated groups of fishermen who use a combination of a pole and plastic spool to cast out their lines.  This activity is evidently quite illegal and they scarper at the first sign of the local police.

As with many such water ways in Asia the illusion of beauty is quickly dispelled if one views it close up.  West Lake carries the debris of the city and its grey green waters are malodorous.

While I was enjoying the evening a man rushed past me and down the steps.  Once he had finished urinating into the lake he casually retraced his steps, mounted his scooter and departed.

It was about this time that I too decided to leave the foreshore.  The many flower vendors I encounted on my return journey partially restored my relief in the beauty of the city.