Dutch Courage

The Hotel lobby was a safe haven, cool and calm.

The revolving doors stood strong and proud, a barrier between me and what was on the other side.

Ding! The reception bell chimed as the hushed voices of weary tourists filled the room, suitcase wheels squeaking with excitement along the
marble floor.

I sat poised on the blue suede couch, trying to discreetly gather my nerve. I swallowed hard and smiled at the concierge looking at me with the bemusement only a local could pull off.

My crinkled shirt stuck to my back, the soft hum of the air conditioner taunting me.

To hell with it I thought.

Getting up I walked steadily towards the point of no return, my camera strap chaffing my neck.

Then with a quick sharp turn I made a beeline for the brochure stand. I ambled through them, buying my time with each deliberate flick of the shiny pages. My mind wondered elsewhere as the sound of the majestic clock resonated through every bone in my body.

I thought about strategies and logistics, the advice of previous travellers filling my already cluttered brain.

Then in a cruel twist of fate a fire alarm pierced my surroundings, shattering my illusions of the lobby being a safe haven.

The heat hit me, suffocating me senses as I stood rigidly going through the motions of the fire drill.

Then as quickly as it had begun it was over. Someone had burnt their toast apparently. And thanks to the anonymous toast burner my time had come.

My stomach rumbled angrily, beads of sweat building on my forehead. I can do this, I can, I tried unsuccessfully to convince myself.

I could see my goal, and there was just one small hurdle to cross, literally.

A sea of helmets greeted me, as motorbikes whizzed by in every direction possible making me dizzy with adrenalin.

ďJust walk. Donít think. Donít stop. Donít look them in the eyeĒ I would consider the irrationality of my self talk later.

The toots grew louder now as my feet went into autopilot one foot after another I almost shut my eyes, my heart in overdrive.

Then, it was over- I had made it. I had crossed the main road of Hanoi, Vietnam- something that takes skill, courage and perhaps even a little Dutch courage.

Before me was my prize, another set of revolving doors leading to a myriad of shops- my new haven for the afternoon. With a Cheshire grin on my face I reached into my... Uhoh my bag is back in the comfort of the lobby.

Looks like Iíll be facing the busy roads of Hanoi a lot sooner than I had expected.

A Watson

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