Night Life


Our street, one of the quiet ones around


Last week we went to a bar about a 10 minute walk from our house. We had been invited by one of Zack’s colleagues and I forewent my usual hanoian bedtime of 9pm (as dictated by my confused body which can’t decide if I’m in Melbourne, Washington, Seoul or Hanoi) and ventured outside after dark. The bar was great, set along a “quiet” shady street, the three floors of the old ramshackle french building were connected by steep, slippery concrete stairs that must have seen some nasty slides. Decor ranged from old posters and faded fabrics to bottles hanging from the ceiling and shisha pipes on the tables. We sat on the roof where the balmy weather made us thankful to be done with winter for a while. The evening smells were wonderful. A humid combination of fading food and incense with an underlying odor of car fuel, sweating rubbish and the occasional whiff from an open toilet door. This mixture, a scent that I am inept to describe, seems to prosper in the dark. We were there in an effort to meet new people and that we did but for me, the best part of any outing has been the journey to and from the location.

As I’m sure many of you have either heard or experienced, traffic in Hanoi really is terrifying. I do have a memory of bad traffic but in the 10 years since my visit I assumed it couldn’t be as I remembered… this was a correct assumption…. it’s not like I remembered… it’s definitely worse.  Stepping into oncoming traffic is not an action I take lightly and at nighttime, when all that is visible are a series of blinding lights racing towards me, my hesitancy is strengthened by my natural instinct not to die. As my mind and body have a standoff as to when is the best time to venture out I begin to consider the benefits of waiting on the sidewalk until daybreak so I can avoid crossing the road in the dark. Needless to say we did make it home and once safely on the other side the road never seemed that bad. My current tactic is to look both ways before I step out and then keep my head down until I reach the sidewalk. It turns out the worst part of our walk home (yes it was only 10 minutes) was an awkward encounter with a small possum sized dog. After sizing us up for 30 seconds, this possum-dog decided that we were bad news and commenced barking so hard it could barely keep all paws on the ground. After a moment of stunned silence there seemed nothing else to do but yell loudly, startling the man near by, and run down the street… screams evolving into nervous giggles once we reached the corner. So… all up a nice evening in Hanoi.

Hẹn gặp lại!


Week One


Enjoying Bia Hà Nội on our balcony

Tomorrow will mark our one week anniversary in our new home. This week has been fun, exciting, tiring and terrifying (only when crossing the road) all at once. Monday morning Zack dove right into work and will spend the next month in language class. I, happily, am much more free to enjoy the sights and sounds of our new neighbourhood. Not wanting to wait all week for Zack to explore with me I have taken the plunge and decided to go and do and eat wherever I end up, usually somewhere within a 5 mile radius of our apartment. Although it’s always great to have Zack with me I am pleasantly surprised as to how relaxing and easy it is to explore by myself. It’s hard not to make comparisons to Gambia and although I never felt unsafe walking on the beach (etc.) it was unpleasant constantly avoiding the “Bumsters”.

Walking around I see any number of things that often make me both laugh and cringe, sometimes simultaneously. A few examples from the past couple of days:

  • Unidentified squealing animal in a plastic bag on the handle of a scooter
  • Indefinite about of close calls on the road, usually involving multiple scooters coupled with multiple phone texts
  • Toads in a bowl on the footpath (a new take on toad-in-a-hole)
  • Eels (or something) in a bucket of water on the footpath
  • A puppy in a bike basket
  • A baby in a bike basket

Our evening routine this week has included multiple walks in various directions, eating a new Vietnamese dish every night and enjoying Beer Hanoi on our little balcony overlooking the street. Since arriving our excitement to be in Vietnam has increased and we’re keen to get into life here and continue exploring both the city and the country.

Hẹn gặp lại


New Posting… New Post


view from bedroom window

Xin chào các bạn and welcome to my new blog Hà Nội Sống which means something along the lines of Hanoi living, living in Hanoi, Hanoi live etc. despite the poor grammar, it makes a nice title.

As Zack and I have now arrived at our new home for the next two years in Quận Ba Đình, Hà Nội, it seems time to begin a new chapter of blog writing. I hope you will stay tuned as I attempt to live, work and speak Vietnamese in this lively city full of interesting culture, different smells, crazy driving and of course… wonderful food.

You can follow my adventures by clicking the “follow” button that pops up on the bottom right hand side of the screen and please leave comments along the way.

xin cám ơn các bạn và hẹn gặp lại!