The rain which began as persistent drizzle this morning is now coming down in a series of increasingly heavy downpours. The silhouetted figures, hunched beneath capes, riding bicycles and scooters and pedalling cyclos, look like the stragglers of some retreating army.
The room is fairly shabby and small and has no bath or river view, but the bed’s comfortable and I rather like its cell-like intimacy.
Vietnam is the most demanding country we’ve yet filmed. Though there are signs of accelerating modernisation and change it is still a modestly equipped Third World economy.
Beggars wait at all tourist pickup points, extending bony, withered hands, or shuffling legless torsos towards the steps of the bus. Wherever we go where tourists are seen, there is a nudging at the elbow and an imploring look. Children, often beautiful and irresistibly bright-eyed, hold out their open palms, or demand pens or chewing gum. Along most of the inner-city streets there are open drains, and in Hanoi many ponds and canals clogged thick with rubbish and human waste.
One of the advantages of the raw, unpolished, Third World feel of Vietnam is that almost everything you point the camera at is interesting – and Roger has found a good number of English-speaking Vietnamese to be my companions.
This is good, purposeful travelling. Rough and ready, unpredictable, demanding but full of character and incident.