Some days, I really feel the fact that Vietnam is on the opposite side of the planet from where I grew up.
A lot seems opposite here. I say what I believe is a simple Yes or No question, get a Yes or a No, then act accordingly, then get a disapproving look. Well, don’t say yes if you don’t mean yes!
I still love Hanoi. I love the coffeeshops. I love the Old Quarter. I love the quiet that descends after a long day of loud traffic. I love that there is so much life crammed into the space here. I love the fact that there are still so many parts of the city that surprise me. We rode around the West Lake the other day and went under the great bridge that first brought us to the city one year ago.
For example, a couple weeks ago we went to a part of Hanoi that felt more like Seoul or Hong Kong. High, modern buildings. Fast, mostly car traffic. Fancy places. Baby stores that carried the very best products. It was like stepping into a different city (or country) entirely. We went to a rooftop bar with a swimming pool on the 26th floor, and bought $1 bottles of beer and observed a wedding photoshoot. The song I associate with the first night we spent in China by the XX came on, and we looked out over the incredible human hives that are constantly being built in Hanoi. Royal City is the big, bright thing in the distance there.
I know that I am constantly, just by existing here, confusing and befuddling and frustrating people. I am from a place almost as far away as it is possible to be. Of course everything I say and do is completely different from what is considered acceptable here. I am huge and blonde and a bit loud. I’m going to stick out.
But then, there is the happiest part of my days here. Finding the new street of guild members, from a happy little accident that left me bruised but brought me to the Teapot Street of Hanoi (heaven!) to the pleasant confusion of finding a restaurant with no walls and a waterfall indoors (outdoors?).
The next adventure is approaching, this particular time in Hanoi is coming to a close. It’s a great life here, and I hope to come back.
Then, there might be a new place I want to live in Vietnam….