On our last day in Hanoi, I was buying fruit in a street market. It was a beautiful, quiet morning, and there were people selling all manner of fruit and vegetables on the street. It all smelled amazing, and it was a perfect time to take some photos. I slid my phone back into the pocket in my shoulder bag I wear cross-body, and took out my money to buy some fruit. At the end of the transaction, I felt down for my phone, under the feet of kiddo2 that I was wearing, and it was gone.
“Inconceivable!” said my brain. I searched all over, but there was really nowhere to search. It should have been in that pocket, and it was gone. I hadn’t even realized it was stolen.
I burst into tears. I was soon surrounded by a group of well meaning older folks who couldn’t understand a word I said. I pantomimed to explain, and they comforted me with outraged faces and hand gesturing. But there was nothing anyone could do.
And thus I became another tourist statistic.
I was super upset, mostly because the photos and videos of my kids cannot be replaced. I’m not sure how recently I backed up, but at least I did so sometime after the birth of kiddo2 so that wasn’t lost. Glad I share so much on FB and Whatsapp so that I can at least get those back.
I kept going over and over the whole thing in my mind. I think because it was stolen right off of me, I felt sort of violated. I am very lucky it was not worse and that I was not attacked or anything, but I still can’t get it out of my mind. I was angry that nothing could be done, but when I started trying to wish evil things upon the ne’er-do-well, I found I couldn’t. I’m pissed that it happened, and I hope the person who stole it REALLY needed the money to feed his/her family as opposed to just buy a pair of shiny shoes for his girlfriend, but I still can’t drum up the hate for this person.
Because of Meredith Brooks. Yup. Remember her?
People are filled with opposites and contradictions, as much as we want them to fit into the boxes we put them in. We imagine other people to be one dimensional, bad, good, lazy, funny, etc., but they are just as complex as ourselves. The “bad guy” who stole my phone is probably someone’s beloved father, brother, uncle, etc. He probably went home, hugged his little girl who came running to see him yelling “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” in Vietnamese. Is he a horrible human being for stealing a phone off a mother carrying a little baby? No, but he did a horrible thing.
Apparently, tourist women carrying babies are not a protected class in Hanoi as later that day I had to jump out of the way as a car hit me in the leg. Just a brush, but only because I leapt out of the way. A street security guy saw it happened and made outraged faces at the driver of the car, which made me feel better. There are few traffic lights in Hanoi, and you have to just cross and walk steadily so traffic can swerve around you. I thought it all seemed to work fine until getting hit, and that evening I met a tourist lady whose foot had been run over by a motorbike. Not fun.
Rough day all in all. I was happy to leave Hanoi. It did make me realize just how precious it is to feel safe walking the streets of Singapore, safe drinking the water and eating the food, safe without having to barricade my home. It is truly a luxury, and I am lucky to have lived in the US where I could feel this way too.
On a positive note, here are some interesting things noticed in Vietnam:
- Land is very expensive so many businesses operate in the street. Barbers set up a couple chairs and sometimes a mirror out on the side of the road and do their thing. Below is a pick of a key cutting street business. Many food sellers operate out there too, washing dishes in a couple of big bowls street side.
- The expense of land also leads to very tall and skinny buildings.
- Those typical cone hats are everywhere, along with ladies carrying baskets on the ends of a long pole. Really didn’t expect to see that.
- Motorbikes rule out there as road space is tight, and people carry EVERYTHING on them. I saw loads of boxes, poles twice as tall as the rider being carried vertically, two adults and four kids packed onto one of them… Some bikes have hooks below the steering for carrying bags. It was really fun just to watch all these different bikes going by on the street.
- Even the tiniest babies are carried on motorbikes, as cars are just too expensive, let alone car seats.
- Anything with wheels goes out here.
- Probably a third of motorbike riders wear a face mask, and tons of women all had very similar light jackets with hoods to keep clean (I assume) while riding. Very dirty city, IMHO.
- Three year olds love pool.
- Trains are very old looking but nice on the inside. Though they swing wildly while you try to sleep on them (took the night train from Hanoi to Sapa). Quite the adventure with the little ones. We had to walk through the train yard to get to our train. Definitely easier to navigate trains in Europe. Very thankful for our wonderful guides from Handspan Tours.
- There is charity for difficult children. I have at least one so far…can I cash in?
- White babies are a rare sighting out there. Kiddo1 and Kiddo2 got a TON of attention. Kiddo1 did not appreciate people who crouched down next to her for photos. Kiddo2, being 3 months old, ate it up. He loved the attention and all the ladies cooing in his face. At breakfast at our hotel, I laid him down on the seat on his back. He soon had a waitress cooing over him. Eventually, she picked him up and took him over to the crowd of waitresses so they could all coo at him and make him smile. He loved it, and mama got a nice breakfast. :) Kiddo1 loved this lady though.