hanoi autumn / by patrick carpenter

The line of cyclos moved like a tapeworm through the streets. You had the swarm – the motorbikes blitzing, and now coursing through them, the tapeworm. The tourists who lined up outside the hotel for this packaged experience were able to see traffic up close, to be pelted with gusts of motorbike exhaust, as well as the slow push down from the leg of the cyclo driver ahead. When close enough and the tapeworm never sub-divides, the passenger might catch his reflection in the stainless steel back of the cyclo directly in front.

No one put on their best face for the passengers. Everyone just raced to get around them, to be free of the blockage. Bypass.

These are the grey months. The locals bundle up. You look at them and think the blizzard will hit this evening. For a country that never sees snow, the people of hanoi buy their fair share of ski jackets.