So, to return to the subject - walking. Now my formative walking years were tramping the mountains and glens of the Scottish Highlands, particularly the Grampians above Aviemore. Then there were the hill climbs on a Munro or three, trudging up the steeps slopes above Lochaber or Ullapool or Applecross. Magical walks everyone.
But now, in the city, with the weather turned to cool autumn early winter, it is the city streets that I walk. Or to attempt to walk, dodging traffic, stumbling over street stalls, stopping for tea, or a shoeshine, or just a chat. All year round, social life, family life, is conducted on pavements in Hanoi.
I sat on a plastic stool with my friend Cuong recently. We caught up on the well-being of our families, we drank fresh fruit juice, we had our shoes shined. With only Vietnamese sitting, drinking, chatting, we watched the backpackers with their overweight rucksacks, determinedly purposeful, hurrying to somewhere, a place between pages in a guidebook, never looking to left, or right, or up, or down, missing the cafe with the wee plastic stools, and me, and Cuong, and our companions.
Good to be so invisible.
Hanoi Old Quarter
Then there are the lakes. Right in the heart of the city is the legendary Hoan Kiem lake. When we first arrived in Hanoi we lived about 100 metres from here. Early morning walks, six am circumnavigating the lake dodging the locals doing Tai Chi, Calisthenics, stretches, or badminton, stumbling over tree roots, and in the early morning quiet breathing in the mist and freshness - magic. Evenings, sitting on benches, eating ice-cream, chatting watching enjoying, quickly it became clear to us strangers that this was the spiritual heart, the soul of the city. And not much has changed in the fifteen and a half years since I first walked around it. More traffic for sure, but the sense of its soul? Same as ever.
|Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi.|
There is sure to be someone out there, don't know because I didn't Google it, who has written a book, a tract, maybe a PHD thesis, on the Art of Walking. Walking in the Moment? Walking therapy? Zen Walking? Power Walking? Me, I'll take -
Walking back to Happiness...Oom Pa Oh Yea Yea...
Thanks Helen Shapiro.
PS Loved the Big Hair.
Aa' the best.