biking in ha noi: getting lost is the new found

The above picuture is an example of Ha Noi traffic, although I don't think it really does justice to the chaos, noise, fumes...

Yesterday I was given my own bike. This will most likely be my primary method of transportation around Ha Noi. Here I am before my first bike trip. I was dressed a bit inappropriately, so I had to adjust...but I look pretty much ridiculous no matter how well prepared I am for an excursion.

The primary rule for biking in traffic is as follows: don't pay attention to anything behind you; your only concern is what is going on in front of you.

Other rules I have picked up on in my day of experience:
-it is only sometimes mandatory to stop at red lights
-if you are a smaller vehicle, squeeze into any space possible
-use your horn as often as possible
-if you don't have very far to go, you might as well ride against traffic if that's the side your turn is on
-if you have to stop, try to stop in shade

Anyways. today Ali and I biked--all by ourselves!--to get our second installment of the Japanese something-or-another vaccine. Then, we went downtown to explore, with the intention of returning to the MCC office for lunch.

We left downtown with a whole hour to spare (a journey that I would estimate to take 30 minutes by an experienced Hanoian cyclist). Long story short, we were 15 minutes late for lunch. We got there, we just have no idea how. Doesn't help there is no such thing as straight, parallel, or perpendicular as far as Ha Noi roads are concerned.

However, getting lost really wasn't such a bad thing; we now recognize a few streets we did not know before.

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