Hanoi has the most singular method to get dinner. It starts by stepping out of the hostel, an impossibly narrow Paris-style terrace, into a cacophony of smog and scooter horns. With a thick humidity hitting my face, I look up and delight. The inconsistent culture-mashing architecture, borderline anarchic roads, stalls set up on any spare street space; this city does what it wants.
Strolling through the streets and alleys of Phuket is a constant stream of stimulation. It’s hard to know what to look at with the barrage of color and smells, dodging amateur photographers who find most objects the most enthralling subject. Nobody would plan anything like this—and thank goodness.
The Life of Oharu weighs heavy on the melodrama in a Thomas Hardy-esque epic of one woman’s life. The eponymous Oharu is a fallen angel of the 18th Century—a once respected woman with a posh accent, who after banishment from Kyoto for associating with a lower caste man is routinely thrown around by the patriarchy, finding herself, against her will, a child-bearer for a local Lord, a concubine, a servant and widow. This is all told in flashback as the older Oharu spies the face of a former lover in a temple statue.