Postcard from Hanoi: A city of a thousand fig trees

I took a stroll in Hanoi today*. It’s a beautiful city. But parked motorbikes and perched purveyors of foods and goods possess its pavements. So to walk one must step into the streets and have faith in the swirling mass of motorists whose pulse keeps the city alive.

The constant sounds of their car and motorcycle horns beep and parp and wahdah-wahdah-wa-wa without pause. They tear the air and probably save lives, but they also kill a bit of a wanderer’s pleasure by drowning out other noises.

The only birdsong I heard today came from bulbuls and babblers and magpie-robins that hung from storefronts in little wooden cages. There’s an irony in their lonely captivity because Hanoi is also a city of trees, a city of fig trees that owe their existence to the some of the same species whose caged members no longer fly free.

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