On 9 July I go. That's about a week. I've lived here since February 2020. The entire time of the pandemic has been spent here in Vietnam. Now I must go because I cannot make the visa extensions work and its a risk that I would have to leave anyways at any time as they change the visa rules. I just chose to go now. Just in a retrospective frame of mind...
I got here in 2020 in February. The original plan was to stay until May and then live in Cambodia awhile on a retirement extension of stay which is easy to get. Then I would have traipsed around Southeast Asia more. I have a few few friends retired in Cambodia and Khmer friends there too. I would probably have gone to Singapore too.
Of course all that changed with covid-19. So I stayed put in Vietnam which was the best thing I could have done. I found a few things here.
- Home. I found a home here in Hanoi. Its the first home I've had since 2009. I just felt like I belonged in this house with these people and with the walking, travel, eating, drinking and fun here. A home is a lot more than a place. It's a touch, a feeling, a desire and when you find one, it just becomes so much more. It takes you in, gives you the feelings of care. My home here is not splendid or a wonderful residential service apartment. A single room rather small but it has been a home. Hard to explain when I am but a hobo and vagabond for years but finding one is like a door opening to the heart, mind and soul.
- Friends. I have to say if you want a loyal and dependable friend a Vietnamese friend is the perfect person to find. These people are amazing and authentic, friendly, and love to socialize, eat, drink and do them all together. The other side of this is when I require solitude. Then too my needs are respected and met here. Then there are my friends Paul and his wife the Boss or Duyen. She has taken well to her nickname I gave her. I guess better than calling her stubborn :-). I will miss both of them a lot. The Boss is a loyal friend who would cross oceans for a person she accepts. Paul is the only American friend I have here. Its a lose-lose thing for all of us because their boys love me too and were crying to hear I was leaving. Such is friendship here. I will treasure forever my Vietnamese friends. Then there is my Lily. Sadness there a lot. She has been particularly close to me for years. Celebrated my birthday with her and friends in Can Tho last year.
- Society, History and Culture. I simply love the ethic and ethos here. Vietnam is a rich tapestry of history and peoples. From Hue to Saigon to Can tho to Hanoi. Such wonderful themes of people. In central Vietnam, around Da Nang and Hoi An you will find the Quang people. Maybe the most friendly and outgoing of any here. When I visited Hoi An last time, I decided to park at a beer garden and I was so warmly welcomed and checked on often if the beer was to my liking. Many smiles from old and young. Handshakes and nods and many Xin Chao greetings. The history and culture here is one of respect and family. I've wondered over this often and have talked with many Vietnamese friends. Families are the glue here. People are just granted honorary family relationships. Here I have been called Uncle so many times by my friends and I love the feeling. I don't believe I ever felt the same growing old in the US. I felt disenfranchised and not needed there.
- Food and Beer. Beer and food. Twin disciples of a life in Southeast Asia spent too well. Vietnam is the foodie capitol of all places I think. I've found more expressions of food here in Hanoi than anywhere else. Vietnamese love to eat and drink. They will gather at a moment's notice with some beer and a lot of laughing and talk.
- Finally travel. For me its walking in any city in any direction or a park or a religious site. Me and the iPhone to simply record the memories from any day I find myself participating in. Vietnam has so many textures of travel from the wondrous Mekong Delta to the city that never sleeps Saigon. My favorite place still is Da Nang. It has the essence for travel and the wandering there leaves me always wanting more. But Hanoi! Oh my. I love this beautiful city. Sometimes passionate, sometimes social and often gregarious in coffee shops I find out walking.
So I felt like saying,
there I go
And I've received so many messages from my Vietnamese friends expressing their love and sadness. But there I go because I must go. I will wander again this time in some country called the USofA. Not my home or a place I wish to be in but I'll take it for awhile. I'll find a next thing and a next. I'm not meant for stability. This old soul and heart needs a road that moves slowly. Possessions I have but few. All fit in a 45 or 50 liter backpack and a smaller bag. I traded away all the things like cars, homes, things for this life. So when I go; there I go.
I'll not be writing so often for awhile now. Maybe only a few pictures of the final sets of things I see in beautiful Hanoi. I'll go to a wonderful country farm north of Hanoi with my friends C and her husband to just unplug and be with some people who mean a lot to me.
There I go.