Vietnam came and went without a hitch. It was the place I was waiting for or dreaming about this entire trip and when the plane landed in Hanoi from Beijing it just felt right. Like we belonged. Finally. Maybe belonged isn’t the right word here, after Indonesia and battling the language barrier through China, I was just happy to be in a place where I could breathe and relax without too much hassle or trouble. Vietnam ended up being the break that we needed.
Hanoi is bursting with life. Locals out in full force enjoying the few degree temperature drop of the cooler winter months. We stayed in the old quarter and the sunflower seed eating masses were out every night. It seemed to be the twenty something crowd’s social crutch. Sunflower seeds and conversation.
Watching an overgrown ape such as myself sit in a child size plastic chair at a street side food stall, must have been a hilarious experience for the tiny locals. My knees spread apart as far as they could go; still creeping higher than the edge of the table. Uncomfortably hoping they would come to take our order before my hips started aching and the hunch in my back deformed me forever. BUT…sitting down in a child size plastic chair, at a street side food stall with a million motorbikes zooming by, slurping the best phở you ever had from the innards of a dirty bowl is simply, positively, undeniably, glorious! Squeezing lime and adding all of the essential fresh picked herbs to your own taste is absolutely worth the price of the plane ticket. A holy experience really. The smell of the star anise, cinnamon, and all the other goodness in that wonderful beef broth steaming up into your face is magic. Mixed with the honks, exhaust, the sound of a language I don’t understand and a constant stream of people of all colours walking by, you know you’re alive and it’s the reason why travelling can become addictive. It wasn’t just about the food, it was about the whole experience and with F. by my side this is one that I won’t soon forget.