Postcard from Hanoi

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.


3 thoughts on “Postcard from Hanoi

  1. Just the other day I recall thinking to myself… “I haven’t read a blog from Sheila in a little while – we must be due!”

    Alas, here it is.

    RE: “this experience has turned my latest plans on its head again.”

    Such is the beauty of life, if we chose a direction and set course just once, imagine just how limiting that would be, not to mention boring!

    I’m glad to see you’re continuously exploring the infinite facets of the experience we call life.



  2. Damian, yes it was time for another post! And actually I have SO much to write about being in Hanoi. I thought this little snapshot would give a little insight into my experiences but I will elaborate more soon. And as for exploring the possibilities of life – I seemed to do that even when I try not to :-)

  3. Shelia, I met Jimmy a few years ago when i was in Vietnam, with a bunch of friends on a cycling tour… It was a fantastic resturant and followed later by a night at his pub! Memories are as fond as yesterday..

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