See you again, Hanoi…
Left Hanoi in bad cold and wet slush, driving down stinky Minh Khai. Can’t remember the last time before today I ever struggled with saying ‘goodbye’. Yet despite the countless times I’ve said, “No way can I stand yet another winter in Hanoi!” now, as my adopted hometown disappears behind me, every bone in my body hurts for me to… just stay. And for the first time in… well, long, I don’t even mind the slow traffic. It gives me time to rewind and play back both the great adventures and seemingly insignificant yet still dear moments of my past six years: “Oh, there’s the tiny bun cha joint with the big outdoor stove that I used to go to!” and “Ah, next what!? I miss Roots Bar and their ‘Cinnamon Attacks’, off of the old menu nobody else knew about!” and “There’s the (now luxury) sky-rise a friend and I broke into some years ago, just to have a ‘Slumdog-Millionaire’-style moment, looking down at the city from the top of (at the time) a major construction site!”
I think back on the madness around Hoan Kiem during the 1,000-years of Hanoi celebrations; I think of my dear Minsk, of all the nem and banh chung around Tet (not so much the tiet canh, though!), of all those crazy events, the unique films I’ve made here, of all the innocent kitschiness, of all the illogical things the locals do that we long-term expats simply stopped seeking sense in. I think of all the great friends I have here… oh… I just left the city.
I’m excited for my travels, but as I leave, it’s nostalgia and a simple love for Hanoi that overshadows all else.
Dien Bien Phu
Got to Dien Bien Phu pretty smoothly/pretty quick! Nemo did well! Ah, yes, my bike’s name is Nemo (for the old Nintendo game, not the silly fish). And yes, it’s a he — and there’s not a feminine thing about him!
I took classes on Vietnam’s history in college, but my memories are rusty. Still, my knowledge seems superior to the info provided in the less-than-impressive history museum (although the building looks cool). It took Wikipedia to make sense of the photos posted around the otherwise pretty empty room. Oh, wait… did they copy those photos off of Wikipedia, too?
Going to Lao! Not going to Lao…
So the smart-arse at the border won’t let me leave Vietnam with my motorbike… Uh… 460km till the next border crossing I can try…
The Convincing Powers of US$30
Took a shortcut. Regretted it soon after. Made up a song:
There’s so many rocks,
There’s so many holes,
Does spraying water
Really help at all?
But where is the road?
Where is the road?!
There is no f****** road!!!
Flat tyre. Uh. I got an hour till the border closes. No time to change. I just pump it up every 5km until I get to Lao, I’ll worry after.
They let me through!
I want to feel proud of making it so far, but I’m beyond exhausted… Beer Lao and off to sleep.
For more on Matt’s films and travels, check out the Etherium Sky production blog at etheriumsky.com/prodblog