If I have been asked once, then I have been asked a hundred times the question, ‘Why Vietnam.’ I am tired of answering it, but will do so again one last time.
Vietnam, especially Hanoi, has always been on my radar. I’ve read its history, seen the TV shows and read all the newspapers in the 1970’s, when I was a boy. In March 2013, after 6 years in Cape Town, the lease on my house was due for renewal and I started looking around for a new place to live. I also, briefly, looked at accommodation websites in Saigon, De Lat and Hanoi, just out of interest, that’s all. I read the blogs and the forums and knew I would need a visa so I looked at the Vietnam Embassy website to find out how to apply, just in case, you understand.
Then I received an email, completely at random, from a lady who told me that she had just bought one of my books in the English language bookshop in Hanoi. As is usual, in these cases, I replied with a thank you but added, ‘I have been thinking about spending some time in Vietnam myself, do you know of any local accommodation websites where I can avoid these big US Dollar rentals?’ (a common problem for first timer’s in Vietnam)
The good lady then replied saying, ‘how’s this for timing? Me and my husband are planning to leave Hanoi, after 8 years here, to travel India for a year, would you like to take over the lease on our Lake House’? And she included photographs.
So, and I am sparing you all the intimate detail, which is unnecessary, I am now in a cheap, but pleasant, hotel room, waiting for them to move out and head for India. I thought I would come early so I could get to know the city before moving out to the lake. That is why, or how, I am in Hanoi, holed up in the historic streets of The Old Quarter. Call it chance, opportunity, luck, fate, call it whatever you like but here I am, for the foreseeable future, whilst I attempt to write Last Man in London.
So, for all of those asking for news of my travels and experiences (and there are a lot of you) then here they are. (Somewhere down there on the right hand side under ‘categories’)
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Hanoi – From April 2013