Settling into expat life can be a challenge, wherever you decide to live. Making new friends, keeping in touch with old ones, adapting to new food (this adaption may take place predominantly in the bathroom…) and getting used to the speed of the city. In Hanoi, that speed is fast paced. It seems everyone has somewhere they need to be, and they need to be there 10 minutes ago. When you mix this pace with a dire lack of public transport and low income, the result is streets filled with, what the Vietnamese like to call, motorbikes. To me, they will forever be called scooters. And the sound will remind me of hair driers and 17 year old boys from the town I grew up in, smoking and trying to get an adult to buy them some cheap booze. Having spent most of my teen years perpetually teasing anyone that ever mentioned in passing the notion of buying a scooter, a little piece of me died when asked for the first time in Hanoi “do you have a scooter yet?”.
My alarm started shrieking at me at 5.30am one morning, which is a time I don’t particularly relish for anything, never mind what we had planned for this day. The previous day we had hired a taxi to drive us from Hoi An to Hue, over the Hai Van Pass. And today, we would be hiring a moped to go back to the top of the pass, and complete what turned out to be a six hour round trip and make it back to Hue in time for our bus. Any why were we planning to return to the top of the Hai Van Pass? Well, because it’s just so gosh darn beautiful. And to correct a terrible error from the day before.