I coveted a Tufty Club badge in the 1960s. I didn’t get one but I had a board game and Tufty flanelette pyjamas. STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN, the road was a dangerous place and Ron the Weasel who did not abide by the Tufty mantra got run over several times as I remember.
So it is really hard to just walk out into a busy road, to not stop and look and listen. It goes against all my childhood training and self preservation instinct. But in Hanoi, unless you’re going to spend the whole of your stay holed up in your hotel bedroom, or walking around on the same bit of pavement, you have to break with Tufty traditions and simply step out, into the tide of scooters and motorcycles and cars and buses.
It take a lot of persuading. But I do it. In the spirit of adventure and to alleviate the boredom of walking up and down outside my hotel. And I do it again and again, thinking each time it will get easier, less scary. It doesn’t. For me, it’s a bit like skiing. I have been going for many years, but never really get any better because I won’t point my skis directly downhill to get the necessary speed up to make turning easy. My self preservation instinct is there for a reason. I am not exagerating about my incompetence. For reasons of political correctness I cannot repeat what Mr P once said to me about my skiing in exasperation at having to wait for me yet again. But it went something along the lines of ‘You’ve been skiing for years Laura, how come you still ski like a ………?’
Our first day in Hanoi, and if I were alone I would probably just have risked a couple of roads to get to the lake and walked around it in relative safety feeling calm if not a little unadventurous. We do this, and then as I’m with Mr P, it’s off for a mega hike across the city to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. As with skiing, the energy consumed by not going with the flow, quickly leaves me feeling tired and a little agitated. But we do stop for a lovely lunch along the way though, and I plump for my usual tofu and rice, avoiding the various versions of frog on offer. Though blogging about froggin’ has a tempting ring to it.
Mr P is neither a fan of frog, tofu or rice, so there’s leftover rice. I am sad to think how my Mother was being given rice handouts to survive when I was born, so I fashion the leftover sticky rice into a little gift for her.
After another hour of exploring, Mr P accuses me of being chippy, and he’s exactly right in his assessment. I am tired and a little emotional and not a big fan of museums, mausoleums and being told off by a very snarky but smart soldier for walking on a piece of concrete that looks no different from anywhere else.
So instead of walking home we plump for a rickshaw. And entrust our lives to a man on a bicycle who could be pissed or stupid or both, and take our seats in a dodgy metal affair that looks and feels as though a 14 year old school boy made it for his resistant materials GCSE, without any assistance from his welding teacher. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. I do, I really do, not. But see how I put on a very brave face.
I’ve just reread this blog. Mountains and molehills spring to mind. Time to put Tufty to bed methinks.