I’ve spent the last hour writing my parents a card in Vietnamese, with the constant help of a Vietnamese dictionary to ensure that I get everything correct. I’ve never learned how to read and write formally so don’t know how to do it that well. Even though I am totally wiped out after four very full days here, I got the sudden burst of energy that I get when I’m excited about something. I bought this pop up card at the atmospheric Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) and this is what I wrote to them:
Dear Dad and Mum,
The other day when I was speaking to you, Dad, I was at Jimmy Pham’s restaurant named KOTO (Know One, Teach One). After that I went to Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam. I think you both know this because in Vietnam’s history this place is very important.
The people here seem different to people in the South, but everyone has been very nice. Here in Hanoi, there aren’t many Viet Kieu [expat Vietnamese] but I have made friends with two from France and America who studied the same as me! (BSc, MPH) [NB. This is reasonably rare among Viets, so I felt it worth pointing out].
Everyone compliments me on how well I speak Vietnamese; I explain that you both taught me!
Tonight I am meeting with a friend named Hanh; I met her in Kuala Lumpur in 2004 and we keep in touch a little.
This time, getting to go to Hanoi has made me really happy – I think I’m pretty lucky!
There is so much I could write about the past four days here but as I say above, I’m heading off to meet said acquaintance at a popular ice cream shop by Hoan Kiem Lake. Needless to say, it feels good to be here and this experience has turned my latest plans on its head again.