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Down this little street

There are some streets that I love to walk down time and time again. Yen Hoa is one of them. It winds down toward West Lake and the pagoda and there are wonderful little stores and shoppes all along the road. On on the other side, are small park areas and exercise areas and playgrounds. This photo is from a stopping point I often find which is a little bench with a wonderful changing scene. I often stop there and watch Hanoi kinda going crazy in the evenings. Back in the pandemic days in Hanoi I would walk down and just sit or walk to the empty sidewalks of West Lake. Then Hanoi was sad. Now it is happy and life glistens like the sun striking the waters.

At the end is the Paris Baguette Bakery and then along the road that divides West Lake and then farther along the road is the Tran Quoc Pagoda. This road divides West Lake and Truc Bach Lake. Each lake has wonderful places to take photos and just wander lost or found. I especially like Truc Bach district. It is on an island just about with a wonderful peripheral sidewalk and road one can walk all the way around. Along the walk can be found coffee shops, small bars, and restaurants or cafes.

I’ve felt that the starting point many times for some adventure or other was at this one spot along Yen Hoa. It is funny often it is both the starting and end for me. Just up the street is the place I called home when I lived here. Now it is still home. I think I’ve found a few homes. One will always be in Hanoi and perhaps where the bench starts my walks is the garden of my life. Another is the wonderful tapestry of Siem Reap in Cambodia. Each offers a thing to me. Unfortunately, one is only mine for a limited time and the other gives me a life to lead for as long as I want.

January 21, 2023 Vietnam Visit

Saturday morning quiet times

It seems like the normal noise of a Hanoi morning has calmed down with Tet. The celebration days start officially tomorrow but many places have closed and let their employees head home to families and food and partying. There’s always these moments before the holiday it seems. I remember the Tet two years ago when I was here and the city had grown quiet on the day.

Now it is another Saturday and the days dwindle down to only two left in Hanoi after today. I fly on Tuesday morning to Saigon for a night at a nice airport hotel and then leave Wednesday for home. Getting back to Siem Reap also means it is time to confront a few personal things I need to deal with there but I was thinking over room coffee this morning how nice it will be to get back and have the neighborhood people and places again. Our little neighborhood is pretty close knit so people will always wave and say good morning. Ricky Coffee is always nice for a latte and time to read some news or write a blog post or toot a toot. Then across the street is Sambo restaurant which does Thai and Khmer foods. I know all the people that work there including the manager. The nice lady and man that run our little local store with the cold Angkor beer will wave and tell me good morning. Just down the street are more coffee stands and then some nice breakfast choices can be had pretty close.

Siem Reap is a nice life if you want the happiness of a city with decent infrastructure but still this country life not so far away. Just outside the city one can find dirt roads and small stores and kids waving and yelling in English.

But I am here you say

Yep. So I will just move along I think to West Lake and continue writing here. I always have thoughts on Hanoi. My walk yesterday triggered a lot of it. I found places I had not seen before. Then the blog post happened. The main thing here is how I have wanted the blog to be the central point for things. I want the blog to be home and all other things come from there. I don’t need sites for fancy profiles or statuses. I’m not after all that fun. I just have wanted the central place where I write. I left WordPress so I could have the basic writing back again without block editors and databases and a lot more cost for hosting and services. For me, I think creativity and writing is spurred on by simplicity.

I think more of this shall come in a bit when I decide to have some coffee at the lake and write on the iPhone there. Another joy is to be able to just shift to something else and have the post waiting in the editor to be continued. So let us kick this can down the road and I hope coffee by the lake can be had this morning. We’ll see :-).

Coffee at the lake

Success! Another challenge taken care of. Sitting at the lake. Sun is already out this morning so the promise of a nice day to come. I’ve come to the same cafe it seems for years. The nice ladies know my order and always wave and tell me xin chao. Even after being gone for a few years it was like I had just left the day before.

Now I sit at the lake. Coffee waiting for my appreciation. Tomorrow probably gonna be closed but today is now. Words always seem poised when I reach the chair and tables and the ca phe sua da reaches the inner sanctum.

I also look at my flight info because vietjet is not to be trusted. They will change the flight numerous times to capture people arriving on another flight. Now my flight goes to Saigon at 1010am on Tuesday. I have a night at the beautiful Ibis Saigon airport hotel. Skybar, pool, warmer temperatures.

Yeah. Life is good. Even spending a night in Saigon seems ok.

January 21, 2023 Vietnam Visit

A walk down the side streets in Ba Dinh

I’m not so good as CraigMod and his Tokyo walks but what I decided today was to go focus on a part of Hanoi I do not remember exploring on foot before. The area is a maze of small streets, alleys, side streets and little public markets and getting in and out is a matter of following google maps sage advice. Even so I managed to get turned around a few times going.

Ba Dinh district is a wonderful place to just go exploring on a day. So here are some stories and words of my little foray into the district. Let it be said up front, I barely scratched the surface of the going. After some walking I managed to find myself walking down this street where beer is a major thing.I found a little bia hoi place to stop. Only Vietnamese people greet me and the greeting and hellos were in Vietnamese.

This is just some stop along a street with plastic tables, chairs, and nice people. I was told welcome and someone ordered a beer for me. Each beer is fresh and costs about 15k dong or about $.50. Not a bad deal to sit and people watch. I repeated once and decided to be on my way. I wanted to just find these little places. Down some side street or alley where the signs rose up and people for some reason become even more friendly and social.

These kinds of places give me pause when I walk. I feel like so much is left behind when I finally start writing and looking at the photos.

The alleys turned back and forth on themselves and I just stopped trying to use Google Maps after my first go at it. What I wanted instead was the spirit of the going. This first place was lovely and sublime with the signs, people waving and smiling, and all the little signs of a social life and neighborhood contained in these small walkways. Motorbikes will always ride the center and demand the right of way so I just slowed down to find the cadence of the walks, the wonderful signs for a hair salon and beauty parlor, a small store. Even a place where the chickens are being prepared for a dinner table somewhere.

I walked further along. Life seemed to be the richness and tapestry of close walls with a side street turning lefts and rights and sometimes back on itself. I had no idea without looking at Google Maps where I was exactly and it felt so right. Steps melted away. I found my way to yet more turns and other side streets.

Was there an order and a preferred way? No. And I did not want one. Finally I found my way out to a bigger area and there was this piece of wreckage in the middle of this little lagoon or pool. I could not tell at first glance what it was but I had suspicions.

Soon though I found a marker of some long ago war where people dropped bombs and shot each other and this wreckage was from then. There in front of the lagoon is this sign.

So I stood a moment taking it all in. Some B-52 bomber visited here decades ago and never left. I left.

The alleys melted away and I found bigger streets welcoming me. I would soon exit to a known road. Meanwhile though I found a beautiful wall mural to take me away.

So the end was reached…

But it was just the beginning. My walk had wound around in some part of Hanoi I had never been to before. Side streets and alleys, friendly people waving, life in some glorious mix. How many steps? Where? I have no idea. It never matters the where or how long. What matter is the doing of it and then finding the words and photos later to share.

Hanoi is a city of places. Little places I go find on foot that may not be found again. I can delve into the mystery over the beer or my dinner at a nice Indonesian restaurant I have been to before but the truth is that the moments take their own toll. I take the day. Only a few more to wander this time. Hanoi shows me some other side. What other city I wonder could be anything like this wonderful place? To this itinerant wanderer and writer, the city gives me a canvas to go paint on.

And the end was reached to the day and this blog post.

January 20, 2023 Vietnam Visit

Last weekend in Hanoi

Seems interesting as I decided to make my room coffee that I was thinking of other places. Perhaps courtesy of Day One, I get to resurrect those other days. Perhaps they should be called Days. A year ago in Mexico, Two years ago in Vietnam, Three years ago in the US. Now I have this weekend here and Tet is ready to step in starting already. Local places are already closing and this weekend will grow quiet in the city. Or at least quieter as people head home to families.

Yesterday though was busy on Hong Ma street where the decorations ran supreme. It seemed then walking through the colors, seeing families out to eat and shop for decorations for Tet, children running in amazement at the colors, that life was yet again another set of moments for me to wonder and even wander at. At first thought it was this beautiful street I have loved since forever. Wrote blogposts on it before, shared photos.

Beautiful Mural Street with lanterns, flowers, and many people doing their level best to capture this new moment with all sorts of devices. I loved just fitting in to the scene, seeing it all again for the very first time. I’ve loved coming to Mural Street many times because of the art work and how it calls up a Hanoi of the past. Sometimes it seemed the present fit in with the past.

The boy always made me laugh. I dreamt once he awaited some girl friend or lost childhood partner that would take him farther away. In this scene I was struck that the woman fit so well into the historic scene. Like the scene in the mural just grew to encompass today and a step back by her would place into some history.

Of course the photos and experiences and moments are in the wrong order. I went to Mural Street first and then let my feet take me to some other places. No matter what each little thing contributed to me seeing both places loving each moment of it.

Today brings more…

Always brings more and a little less. Our markers of time go by and I always want to walk a place find a little scene I want to let the iPhone record but I also know it will never get the true wonder of it when I see it. Photographs are like markers to let our imaginations fire but perhaps we fill in so many more details that we tuck away in our memories and let them be found again. Like going to these places.

Today brings a slightly different direction I wish to wander. First around West Lake to the south and west and then find a trail to get lost in. This city always grants my wish.

And that is the today that will bring probably more and less to my plate.

January 20, 2023 Vietnam Visit

some moments

Yesterday was a nice day. Over by Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the park where Ho Chi Minh had his real house. Not the presidential palace but his stilt house where he spent his time. There are beautiful gardens and pools of water.

There are little moments to simply stop at. I always think we strive for the big things. The best sunsets, most stunning thing in whatever genre of whatever it is we publish and share. Or what we create.

Instead we have little moments that all blend together but we lose sight of them.

We should simply stop at the pool of water and look at the reflections which give us back another aspect of the very life we are leading.

Tet is fast approaching now. Only a few days left in Vietnam and then back home. I’ll publish a few thoughts next week on the coming, staying, and going. Meanwhile daily little moments captured on walks persist.

January 19, 2023 Vietnam Visit

Lets start with some words on the blog

The mornings for me are a bit repetitive whether here or when I am home or even the three days in San Bruno, California in September 2022 I think. I enjoy music in the mornings but the peaceful stuff like Dar Williams and similar artists playlist on Apple Music. I enjoy writing the personal touch in Day One first thing sometimes before a room coffee. It is like connecting my day today to other days and speaking the morning mind. So maybe some personal little things for the day. Some lifted a bit from Day One and some reading here and there. Maybe on mastodon. I also make some use of an RSS reader called News Explorer. I am not a fan of RSS but it works for the things I like to keep up on. Some personal things which just coalesce in my jumbled up brain bucket this morning in Hanoi…

  1. Twitter things. I’ve lost track of all the issues with twitter or them blocking some third party apps by blocking some API that they use. I feel bad for the developers that have put skin in this game. I feel bad for the users who wanted an experience just not the one Twitter gave out. Finally I feel bad for whoever is left at Twitter doing the heavy lifting. It must be a despondent and hateful environment there now. In all honesty here, I have no use for Twitter and have not had one for years. It always seemed to me like a third rate experience that I could just quit easier. Facebook was harder to quit than Twitter. Finally though two years ago I gave up on the simmering hatred and people that banged on Facebook and privacy while using Facebook. Seemed like a strange thing then and it still does now. I hope Twitter though does something to explain to people that wrote those apps but I doubt it. I don’t know much about Elon but I don’t think he makes a habit of explaining things. Seems to me when you are the richest man in this world, you don’t gotta worry about explanations.
  2. Writing. I read a few blogs here and there. I don’t do a blogroll but there are some I enjoy. I do read the so-called microblogs which are like I went there and did that”. With a nice emoji or whatever it is called by it which kinda showcases the effort. I always feel like for me the blog is about writing on the going and not arriving and not what I did when I arrived but all the things I found on the way. So I tend to gloss over the services that exemplify that kind of writing. I would never have a micro.blog or omg.lol account. When I want to explore the going it is not about arriving with a cute emoji. I also don’t need profile pages or links to other pages or a home page which lists other pages. This blog is a one stop shop for me. Writing here is the same. Short or long I just go for it. I don’t need some snazzy service to stand up for me to offer yet another take on a day for me which has no takes. My days just go and never arrive and I write to sometimes tie together or split apart the going into little things I see.
  3. Photography. I am no photographer and I don’t want to be one. What I do like is capturing my moments. All of them. Nice and stupid because life is made up of both. I’ve been a fan of the day to day explorations in photos. I don’t need spectacular. I need regular that makes me want to do the writing. The iPhone 14 pro works like a charm for me because all the photos are right there. Not sitting on some SD card with batteries and cables and crap and since I am no photographer, I don’t need to take RAW images or use a third party camera app like Halide or ProCamera. I do like looking at pretty photos that real photographers take. I have my favorites and I admire their art and science but I’m also glad to not be one of them. They seem to be driven to have more of all things like camera bodies and lens and batteries and cables. I tried that before with FujiFilm gear. I found out I am not a dedicated camera guy since all that was an expensive experience and I hated the cost in time and money to get some of the stuff. I prefer the joy of moments and experiences over lens and filters and raw file shooting and editing and post processing and whatever else photographers got to do to do what they do. The iPhone 14 pro just does those things for me. Imperfect I know. But I am not perfect either.

So as usual, the words tumble out this morning. I have a feeling that IAwriter and Blot will give me a second thought on the blog today. All the things that are going and not arriving and the days which dwindle down in Hanoi. Soon the tag for Vietnam will stop being used except when I want to use it or like to. The words never stop though. They cascade from spirit, mind to this canvas. I just let them out because I feel like the proverbial constipation of soul and mind and spirit without this release. Imperfect, near sighted, no coffee but I will fix that before hitting publish here. Oh. By the way hitting publish here is not hitting publish here. It is copying a thing to a folder on Dropbox. I also can embed those previously mentioned photographs without copying them to Dropbox. Nice! Laziness means now I stop and decide to head upstairs one flight for some room coffee.

The coffee!

And the end of this post. No more thoughts this Wednesday besides leaving for Siem Reap in a week. Back to my mystery companion that awaits me impatiently and sighing into WhatsApp wanting me back. The feeling of another wanting me. That’s new. I also want home. That feeling lacking for awhile since living in Vietnam during the pandemic times. Oh… I did go on.

See ya. Glad I don’t have to be ya.

January 18, 2023 writing blogging Vietnam Visit photography