Millions of motorbikes, millions of pedestrians, Hanoi, grey smog, traffic fumes- it just kind of works.
You have to pick your gap, start walking and just go for it- don’t stop….. the bikes will anticipate your speed and re- correct their direction to speed around you. The beeping of horns is incessant, but you quickly learn, it’s not to say “get out of the way”, but “ I’m here, don’t do something stupid”.
Motorbikes come at you from the left, the right, in front of you and then just to confuse you;
behind you, at a crossing, at a cross road, and just to confuse you in the foyer of wherever you get off the street.
The safest place to walk is in the street as the pavement is full of stalls, shops, shoe- shine boys (big mistake wearing boots in Hanoi).
Just as you get used to walking between stalls, avoiding speeding motorbikes, and foot high curbs, you come face to face with a group of tourists, overwhelmed by the street views, the noise, the smells, the wind, the rain, the life, and you stumble out into the road to avoid their cameras and their umbrellas and North face windcheaters.
Luckily Hanoi bike riders are good bike handlers, they beep their horns, then move as a wave out of your way and you can get back on to the curb edge.