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Blossoming Hanoi 18 April 2011

Posted by uggclogs in Life, only in Vietnam, Travelling, Travels, Vietnam.
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A couple of weeks ago, when it was still quite cold in Hanoi, I caught a whiff of a wonderful smell. It was not the typical smell of Hanoi in summer (urine, dust, sweat) nor the smells that sometimes bubble up to the surface when the autumn and winter rain causes flooding (sewage, garbage, filth).

It smelt like flowers; sweet, slightly syrupy. It smelt like spring.

It certainly did not feel like spring at this stage, but it smelt like it.

Looking around I saw no flowers anywhere, and as it had been a passing whiff, I started to wonder whether it had been a scent memory. You know, the ones you have when you all of a sudden think you smell your grandmother’s house, but when you try to smell harder, the smell vanishes into thin air.

Perhaps it wasn’t an actual smell at all. After all, this was my third spring in Hanoi, and I had never smelt anything quite so wonderful before. I drove past the same spot some days later, and did not smell it again. I must have had a little hallucination or something, I thought. Maybe it was someone’s perfume.

Then, it happened again. This wonderful, sweet scent of pure happy thoughts floated by me on my motorbike. This time, I slowed down, and sniffed, and the smell stayed with me: it was certainly not an illusion. But how could I possibly smell it when I could see no flowers? Why had I never smelt it before? How come I could not locate it’s source?

It was an identical smell to the first time, and I stopped the bike, just to smell the air around me for a while. It was so titillating, so contagious, it instantly lifted my mood. My heart skipped a beat. I felt seventeen again. Memories of stopping next to a flowering tree, pulling the branches towards me to smell the flowers were floating through my mind.

And this weekend I have finally also seen the trees starting to bloom. Orange blossoms are the first ones out of the starting blocks, and the other trees will not be far behind. I still cannot figure out why Hanoi smells so wonderful this time around, but I sure love it. Keep it up, Hanoi, and I will be all the more sad to leave you.