A young couple sitting across from me is typical. He has a neat tidy hair cut, a number two, a clean T-shirt and new jeans. She has a long haircut, is lightly made up, wearing a very modern European cut jacket and pants. Hair is streaked and permed. High heels, anklets, frills and lace. Very composed, poised and aware of the the statement they are making. And conveniently contrasted by the elderly gent immediately behind them. He is wearing a Mao suit with its high collar, has a salt and pepper bristle cut and he looks about him in bemused wonder. I bet the Chinese hip hop that is belting out of the sound system is beyond his ken. Its moments like these you wish you had the local lingo so you could chat with him. Imagine the changes this old man has seen.
In May 1989 Tienanmen happened – as we now cheaply refer to it – and the two people we met the other day had no real understanding about what had happened then. No concept at all. I suspect partly because the state is reluctant to allow it to be part of the the lore of this place. But also perhaps because, like the young people of Vietnam they are really mainly focused on getting on with their studies so they can make money or to get on with their money making.
One stale sandwich , some cheesecake of an indeterminate taste and two chocolate mochas later I am ready for a bathroom break and another foray into the heat. Lets go.