A gentle left turn off one of my regular run routes round West Lake, there's a patch of green with a few deck chairs erected on it. After about 5.30, it's shady and the only half-hot breeze is lifting up off the water to cool the day's accumulated sweat. Later, the sun sinks behind the buildings at back and, depending on what kind of summer sky we have, shoots lasers of pink or orange or red at the correctly angled windows of Hanoi's rising crop of wannabe skyscrapers.
And I'm trying to read my book, which is impossible. It's not noisy. The strip of green lake bank is located on a virtual dead end so the number of bike revs is negligible. The dog's asleep at my feet, exhausted from panting all day. The other deck-chair sitters, mostly couples, are deep in quiet conversation. One distraction is the view over the water, choppier now as the sun retreats. Hanoi almost looks handsome from here.
The other is the frosty beer. Each line of the book is a major exercise interrupted by vacant stares over the lake and greedy thirsty gulps of beer.
Yep, Bia Hanoi served on ice.