What is it about the Vietnamese & karaoke? I’m seven floors up & I can hear people going at it in the club across from the hotel. Must be a hell of a din downstairs. Arrived in good order this morning, less wrung out than usual. Hot & muggy, with a rain shower this afternoon while I napped. There is a beautiful new bridge over the Red River & in general Hanoi looks prosperous. The airport, which in the past often had a certain Dantean quality, has been redone & spruced up; neat & efficient, the place was a pleasant surprise, especially in contrast to Hong Kong, where the airport--once a jewel of Asian modernism--has gotten rather tatty. Maybe the decline is related to the mainland's economic turmoil. The manager at my hotel remembered me from a couple of years ago & since I was early, settled me with a plate of fresh fruit while my room was gotten ready: passion fruit, dragon fruit & watermelon. As noted, I slept for a while, then took a short walk & went out to dinner. I always go to the Moca Cafe on my first day in Hanoi--not because it's the best place, but because of its longevity. The cơm rang gà (chicken fried rice) tastes the same as it did sixteen years ago & it was pleasant to watch the stream of Hanoians & tourists go past the open windows & to hear the raw, unmelodious bell of St. Josephs.