Sometimes I look at a place I want to be. Like a path or street or map that will take me to a place I want to be from where I am. Most often it is trying to find some store a Vietnamese friend tells me about. They send the location to me and I mark it on google maps or look up the name. When I am exceedingly lucky my Vietnamese friend Cat is visiting Hanoi and she knows the backstreets and coffee shops and book stores and the things you really want to find that are hidden in plain sight. Hanoi is full of those.
There are streets that sell nothing but toys. Others that sell pots and pans only. There are entire streets with tailors and clothing repair shops that will work on anything from backpacks to dinner jackets but you have to get there from here. If you have been to the old quarter in Hanoi it is a warren of small streets, alleys, side streets, and businesses that line all of them. To wander the old quarter is going back to other times in Hanoi. Small noodle shops. Local coffee houses with the sounds of laughter and the smart phone screens glowing. Filled with young Vietnamese men and women. When I walk by, often I hear a wonderful,
Or I am invited in for a ca phe and I soon melt away into the scene and the coffee and the unregulated wifi and moments. It is always a moment made of more moments where I find a thing, lose a thing, lose track of a thing. Then I realize,
you cannot get there from here
The tall towers of business centers blocked by geometry and a fence. I know how to get there though to those big sky scratchers like my daughter used to call them. What I always find are the side streets that wander from here to there that get me close.
Hanoi is a wonder to wander in. Especially when Cat shows me around to the little coffee houses where there are bicycles and old cars inside and wonderful old pictures.
Then I know I have gotten there from here.