Sorry to have taken so long to get back to you all via email. I wanted some time to live here, experience the place to be able to report properly.
It's been a little over a month now, the longest time span I've had in Vietnam and the longest I've stayed in one place outside of Long Beach. (Not counting the 3+ weeks I had in Salt Lake that year when I was stuck waiting for my van to get fixed from hitting a deer.)
My first impressions have remained. It's crazy busy here! I would dare say that it's Saigon busy, too. There are way more motorbikes and cars now than last year it seems. To top it all off, it's the height of the tourist season.
The Old Quarter is packed with tourists and locals. On weekend nights, two of the streets are closed off to motorized traffic and are opened with stalls for what is a "Night Market". (If you've ever been to Bangkok, it's like Khao San road.) No pictures here, sorry. But when I was down there one night I was overwhelmed-the mass of humanity and the heat!
Needless to say, I did not decide to live in the Old Quarter. Instead, I took a room in a shared house just 15 minutes south of the Old Quarter.
It's got a balcony looking down onto the alley way and new construction of a neighboring lot. The noise is manageable at this point. Otherwise the noise level in this neighborhood is really quiet. More about the neighborhood later.
The weather is hot! When it got hot in the states, sticky and steamy, I used to refer to it as "Saigon Hot". I'd now use the term "Hanoi Hot!" Luckily there is rain. The kind so torrential that the city's drainage system gets clogged. Leading to this:
I look forward everyday to the rain, for while it rains the temps are cool. And after it rains, even if the sun is out, the temps are cool. How cool, you might ask? Only "Saigon Hot."