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Charming Hanoi 6 May 2011

Posted by uggclogs in Happiness, Life, only in Vietnam, Travelling, Travels, Vietnam.
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Hanoi is a seductress – and she is putting on the charm.

She knows I am leaving in two months’ time. She knows I am looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life. She knows this and she is not happy.

So she is putting on the charm.

I can smell flowers (for the first time in three years of living here).

The weather is mild, clear, sometimes sunny, but not hot or sticky yet.

The people seem extra friendly; the neighbours are nodding and smiling to me.

I don’t seem to be getting ripped off in taxis or at the market.

I suppose I am projecting. I know I am leaving, so I am enjoying every moment of it. I am still being told that I am fat, tall and a westerner. Yet I am also being told that I am beautiful, which hardly ever happens.

I know going back home, I will miss all the things that have in the past also driven me nuts. The traffic, the noise, the constant people around me.

I will miss the way the Vietnamese spend their lives on the side walks, how they meddle in everyone’s affairs, and how they can be quite in your face.

I am sure there are things I will not miss. But they are already by far being outweighed by the things I will miss.

So I am making lists for all the things I need to/ want to do before I leave. Seeing this museum and that landmark (the famous B52 is a must) eating the last bowl of that food and seeing those friends one more time.

It will be hard to leave.

Most of the time, I am not so bad with goodbyes, because I never feel that it will be “for ever” – a globalised world means that I can keep in touch with the people who matter, and I can see them if we are ever in close proximity again.

However, leaving Vietnam will feel different. Many of the people I know here might never travel, or even own a passport. I feel that unless I return to Vietnam, I truly might not ever see them again. Luckily, they all have Facebook…

So, lovely Hanoi, you are succeeding. I will miss you. But first, I am getting all I can out of the next two months!

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After the rain 2 June 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Life.
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Hanoi is slowly gearing up to summer; the mercury is rising, the humidity is stifling, the sun is glaring.

This is my third summer in Hanoi, and I feel that I can cope better with the heat now than I ever have before. I feel sorry for the newcomers who are already claiming to be ‘dying’ from the heat. I choose not to tell them that summer will get warmer and muggier. I don’t want to discourage them just yet.

Yesterday, around 4:30 in the afternoon, the sun was out. It was 32 degrees, and humidity was at 78 per cent. Blue skies were slowly being overtaken by dark, almost purple rainclouds.

People on motorbikes were clumping together under the shade a couple of metres ahead of the traffic lights, trying to stay out of the sun.

“The ninjas have returned!” I proclaimed recently when the women started covering themselves head to toe; they will wear masks and sunglasses, hoodies, long gloves, and specially made ‘riding shirts’ with extra long sleeves that they wear over their clothes to avoid the sunshine.

Then, late last night, there was another storm. I love the storms of Hanoi in summer. There is nothing more welcome, nothing more refreshing.

When we arrived in Hanoi, we were put up in an 8th floor apartment, where you could see the storms rolling in, and where the lightning would be jumping from cloud to cloud all around you. And then, after shrill flashes and loud thunder, pounding rain:

Silence.

Muffled Hanoi, driving through the large amounts of puddles and minor floodings left behind.

And the morning after, when driving to work, it is easier to breathe. The air is cool, everything seems cleaner. The world seems different, somehow.

And beautiful, after the rain.

And you know that the tension will keep on rising over the next couple of days, until the next storm, the next relief.

How can you not but love summer in Hanoi?