I left Ha Noi with the girls on 6. April this year. So not too long ago. Seems much longer. We live now in anew country. Rented a nice house which has become home. Girls go to the Silliman school and do their prayers and national anthem ceremony every morning. The Silliman beach is 300 meters from our house. Katja works in an interesting project on forestry and local planning.
So Ha Noi. It is 00:49 and I just walked back with my ODI colleague Jeff from Jo Jo’s on 23 Hai Ba Trung to the Horison hotel. It was a half an hour walk in almost empty streets as this town goes to sleep at night. We walked by shadows of motorbikes drivers asking if we wanted a ride. Taxi with the vacant sign on driving slowly to catch the few customers left in the Ha Noi night.
Clear air, the moist warmth of this town all around buildings, trees on the side of the streets, and myself. The sign of being in Asia. Few guards sleeping outside larger shops on two or three chairs aligned to create a sort of bed. Jeff is telling me about his adventure on a hotel in Uganda facing the Lake Victoria. At one point a group of 5-6 youngsters on the side of the street near the Temple of Literature. I tense for a second but then realize that in the end this is Ha Noi and it is safe. I would not walk the same way in Phnom Penh or Manila. This is Ha Noi and have the feeling that there something untold between me and this city. And now I am back.
When we left in April i think I wrote a entry in this blog on the reasons I did not fall in love with the town. But is this story really finished? Actually not. I am back and see sides of the town I did not see when I was here. I walk its streets in the middle of the night. I meet Akiko of UNFPA who knows Katja from the UN staff association and realize the small circle of expat that defines working and living in Hanoi. Out with Toon and Ha to eat at the Petit Bruxelles and hear about their next move to BKK. Think that I may be able to overnight at their place when on transit there. Sip a nice coffee on the Highland Coffee at Hoa Kiem lake and enjoy the chill out music while reading a book. Walk around the Temple of Literature which is now hidden in darkness of the night and holds the secretes of its long history and of people lives who have studied and lived there long time ago.
Tomorrow this same place will be full of motorbikes, cars, horns, bicycles and hide its serendipitous peace and tranquility for tomorrow night.
I walk in the warm and cool night and walk and walk and walk and walk and walk. Ha Noi is back and I am back in Ha Noi.