Entering Hanoi

Ji and I were half dead when we stepped off the plane this morning, but it felt so good to arrive in Hanoi.  Every flight we’ve taken has extended our day by a couple of hours, and we haven’t had a full night sleep in a while.

The first thing that struck me about Hanoi – from the window of a taxi – were the buildings.  They were tall and grand, yet scattered and crumbling.  Piles of rubbish lay in the sides of the streets, and the traffic was worse then KL.  Amongst all this organised chaos, were rice paddies or vegetable gardens, and people wearing large straw hats, working the fields.  To get to our hostel (Central Backpackers Hostel) in the Old Quarter, the taxi had to dart between motorbikes, stopping suddenly here and there.  When the car finally stopped, he waved his hands frantically, to indicate that we’d arrived, and someone from the hostel helped us bring our luggage in.

Everything felt like smooth sailing from there.  The reception staff were so lovely.  They went over the checking in details, the tours we’d booked, and offered us a place to keep our luggage, as our room wasn’t ready yet.  They also suggested we join the daily (free) walking tour of the city, which sounded like a great place to start, so that we could gain our bearings.

I don’t know why I wanted to come to Vietnam, except that it just felt right.  A lot of people had told me how beautiful it was, and when I found out about the anthropology course, it seemed like a really good decision.  As I followed the walking tour, getting my first real taste of South East Asia, I felt so at home.  I realise I haven’t been here yet for a full 24 hours, and I always say I’ve fallen in love with a country when I enter it for the first time, but…I’ve fallen in love with Vietnam.  It’s so different to anything I’ve every experienced.  I love how busy the streets are.  I love how easy it feels to walk around.  I love how gentle everything seems under the surface.  I don’t understand the language, or know much about the culture, but I feel like I fit in here (although I probably stand out like a sore thumb).  This is quickly becoming one of my favourite places.

It’s normal to feel a little bit scared before stepping out of your comfort zone.  But I love how the more you do it, the easier it becomes.  The lessons I’ve learned from throwing myself in the deep, I’ve found to be the most valuable. I’ve noticed they always lead me to answers I never knew I needed, and helped me realise who I wanted to become.  Someone comfortable with the unknown.

With Love, Kat

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