Getting the weekends
I am not sure any longer what a weekend is but I guess one approaches. The weather here is gonna take a nice turn so I think will walk down to Hoan Kiem Lake on Saturday. On the weekends they close the street that runs around the lake and people take off for some lake walking there so I think I will go too. I have a few ways I can reach the lake. Since I walk everywhere it’s fun to trace out on google maps what I could see depending on which way I would go. Truth is though I always turn some other way walking and find new streets, coffee shops, and people to watch.
Since it’s not the weekend yet, we have a cloudy and cooler day also perfect for the walk I want to do today. I’ll be walking from here across to Ba Dinh district which is one of my favorites and then into the Botanic Garden and do some walks there. The garden really seems to be a big park rather than a bunch of flowers or gardens and that’s okay too since no motorbikes and cars are allowed in so people can run, walk, take their families at an easier pace. I have not been back to the Botanic Garden since last time here. Back then it opened and closed based on covid restrictions. I think Hanoi particularly is a very social city and the places like the Botanic Garden, the parks around it, the coffee shops and cafes that dot the landscape are the agents of society and culture here. Also since Hanoi is a city of neighborhoods, each neighborhood has a share of wonderful local places that are worthy of exploration. The area I live in now has this wonderful mix of things to go find. Just down the alley is West Lake where restaurants and coffee shops beckon. The other way are a few main roads where one can find everything from Bia Hoi to nicer restaurants and bars. Even living here for over a year before, I am still surprised at the things I can find or that my friend David tells me about.
Last night David and I went to a favored burger place here that I have loved for years. Going to restaurants is also sharing to me so we both really enjoyed SunKat’s Burgers here on Yen Phu street. The burgers are huge, lean to one side on the plate, and come with plenty of toppings and happy servers. We repeated the beer twice and just enjoyed the talking.
SunKat’s Awesome Burgers
Yesterday though was a food day as well. So in the morning after coffee at the lake, I ventured to a favored Pho place not far from home. The lady welcomed me with smiles and remembered the pho bo I like and the wonderful little Quay to dip into the broth.
Pho is breakfast food!
Finally in some cosmic order or other I ended at a favored coffee shop and enjoyed the Ca Phe there along with just watching people come and go. I am usually the only expat or tourist or whatever I am there but I’m welcomed warmly in Vietnamese and the owner hugged me the first time which made me feel like I was just coming home yet again.
I’ve fought over this a few times in my Day One and on the blog. V tells me I have come home and there is this desire perhaps from my previous years to just stay in Vietnam again. I believe though we can have many homes and families that occupy the homes. My family extends out I feel from the wonderful people I live with and around in Siem Reap to Hanoi. Each place offers something when I come. Sometimes I want nothing but peace and solitude. They understand. Often we also go out socially and stop at Beatnik Speakeasy in Siem Reap for some drinks. I feel equally at home sitting there drinking and watching the pathways from Pub Street as I do sitting at West Lake with cold beverages in the evenings. Honestly have not done the evening beers at the lake yet but it will feel just like it has always.
Then there is going to Cambodia in a few weeks. I only have a month and I chose to spend only a few days in Saigon because I cannot tolerate it. Three days tops me up on Saigon so this time I obeyed the feelings. The longer time I wanted in Hanoi so I got three plus weeks. But in a little over two weeks I go back to the life I love in Cambodia and friends awaiting me there. I don’t bring back much besides me and a personal gift for someone there. The real thing is to be back where I enjoy the other side of home which gives me both the peace and solitude and social things I have come to want.
So I have weeks left in Hanoi and Tet comes soon and I go back to V’s home for the celebrations, food, and just the peace. I feel often when I visit her home I am coming to yet another home. This place where the shoes get kicked off, the family welcomes me with no regrets, and the last few days I have are spent celebrating the biggest holiday week in Vietnam.
And that’ show I am getting to the weekend. This one and a few more and then I spin around, fly to Saigon for a night, and then back home the next day. To the other home. I need both so I think someone will ask me when I’ll come again to Vietnam. I have dreams and desires with that. Some involve Vietnam. Others involve Malaysia.
Back at you soon with more words and other stories about being home in so many places besides the United States where home could never be. Nothing United about those States to me.