Like many things in Hanoi, these winding streets feel unimaginable. The narrowest of alleys, sheperded by iron gates, concrete walls, towering apartments. All linked with secret turns and punctuated by the sharpest of angles.
The sky darkens from gray to black, dusk is here. We’re unconcerned, despite being trapped like rats and even accompanied by a few.
The slight woman with the twin baskets slung over her shoulder, perfectly balanced, conical Non La atop her head, overtakes, then keeps pace with us. I’m not sure where she’s going, but for now she’s a rabbit to our chase.
She pauses, slides open the imposing gate, and steps delicately up the three landing stairs. Removes her shoes and hat, and slips inside. The fresh vegetables lining her baskets have found their home.
We continue along, leaving our rabbit behind, until the impossibly narrow alley becomes impossibly narrower. Just wide enough for a bike, or a wild dog. As we squeeze through, and round a couple more corners, it’s clear we’re not sure where we’re going.
We round the next corner and pause to peer through the narrow slats on the metal gate, and finally recapture our sense of direction.
But what seems right has left us.
where did the lake go
Undeterred and resolute, we march on.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our time here
it’s that something amazing is around the corner.