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Monday, August 11, 2014

Old Town, Hanoi : Thoughts on a Street Corner

Hoi An-0495

“Life is full of stories. Or maybe life is only stories. Good night, my dear Nao.”
- A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

I'm back in Hanoi, this time on a work trip, but with travel perks nonetheless. I'm sitting at the corner of Hang Thung and Ten Huu Huan. 930pm. Swarm of motorcycles crossing the intersection. The traffic lights work, but it's only for show. The Vietnamese have their own traffic rules, or probably it is its non-existence.

Hoi An-0494
Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

A woman wearing a baby-carrier and her toddler in the front. Young ones wearing party dresses. And two to three people on motorcycles lined up, chatting away. The police smoking... Then a guy passes by, knocks over my small table, the avocado shake now all over my legs. So much for a tale of the time being. Moments passed.

'Sorry, I'm so sorry,' the guy said. I think he's the cafe owner. A crew came over and asked if I wanted another one.

After cleaning up, I lit one stick. The couple at the next table, backpackers probably from Europe, turned to me and smiled. 'Smells good,' they said. 'It has vanilla on the tip of the filter,' I answered back. 'Ah, that's why.' This cigarette of mine has always been a conversation starter. In Palawan, the village chief in Burma, the postman in Epidavrus Theatre in Greece.

A few minutes after, the couple were about to leave. They looked back at me, smiled, and waved goodbye.

I miss the backpacking life. The clothes worn over and over again during the course of a 5-month backpacking trip. The carefree lifestyle, the continuous moving, discovering a new place and different way of living every other month or week even. Of meeting strangers in dorms turned friends over a 2-week trip, of meeting guys in sleeper bus rides and treks and falling for them, or the idea of it. Short-lived yet meaningful friendships and relationships, some can even change you and your life.

This certain kind of bliss one can only experience when you let go of your past, jump into the unknown and uncertainty, live only in the present.. a collection of tales for the time being. Such is life on the road.

This isn't my life anymore.

To be honest, I am at a crossroad. Trying to see where I should go. Trying to seek for balance between stability and adventures on the road. I now have an appreciation of hotel rooms and suitcases, of having a place to go home to every day. Of buying local paintings and small things to put up on my wall.

Hoi An-0740
Hoi An's Charming Old Town

I think I'll be here for a while, at this crosscroad.

It's unsettling. But it is change.

It's another story, and we'll see where it will lead me to.