expat life in Hanoi

Expat life in Hanoi, at its worst…

The sky hangs heavy, drooping to touch the tips of lonely towers.

A jacket, a waterproof, a mask, a helmet, visor down, and still the air gets in.

Dreaming of a home where no one would usually rather be for the weather…

The wind picks up and dry spring leaves, not knowing the usual way of things, fall and whip between bikes rushing between cars and lights blinking red.

The rain comes next, fast and thick and blurring the hazy horizon. The honking, usually a constant cloud, strangely stops. Commuters panic and rush, too busy to find the horn.

I should slow down.

I hit the brakes, the left too weak and the right too strong, and suddenly I’m in the road, splayed, with the bike beside the pavement.

Slow motion? No, never in Hanoi.

I stand bewildered. This would never have happened in my old and reliable Dream. RIP.

I get back on, ignoring the equally bewildered stairs and turn the ignition lightly.

Heart thumping.

A flash of a body across my vision and hands react. I’m down again and my chin is on the ground.

Read more: Driving Shitty Bikes in Vietnam


Expat life in Hanoi, at its best…

We could have left our campspot that day and ridden on the truck heavy, dust drenched CT1. Instead, we packed up the tiny, proud Dream (RIP) and we climbed a hill between towering evergreens.

The shade was a blanket and the downward curve of the road was a dream.

Oli expertly angled the bike for the two of us and our entourage of camping luggage. I encircled his waist and peered eagerly over his shoulder at the approaching scene.

The sky rushed overhead as the thin road opened up, jagged mountains replacing dark, dense trees.

Without a word, he pulled the bike over and we sat among the wild flowers, placed so delicately next to the empty road.

We sat silently drinking in the mountains. Feeling their presence sink into our souls the way the cool, clean air filled our lungs.

This. This is Vietnam to me.

Not tight, claustrophobic alleys or rows of honking bikes coming from all directions but open expanses of seemingly untouched beauty, utterly wild and serene all at once.

In so many ways, like nowhere else I’ve been. But, also, like a piece of everywhere I’ve loved.

Read more: What I Love about Living in Hanoi

I recently attended my first writing group in Hanoi and felt like I fell in love with Hanoi all over again, writing out my best and worst moments surrounded by inspiring creatives.

If you are looking for a creative writing group to work on your prose or simply let loose on paper, get in touch and I can point you in the right direction.


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