Hanoi, a beautiful mess (a love letter)

By Gaspard   June 29, 2016 | 05:40 am PT
I like Hanoi for the same reasons some people hate it.


For the cracks, the dirty walls, the noises, the smells; for the chaotic complexity of the streets, the bumpy sidewalks, the electric wires growing around buildings like ivy.

I like the yellow paint peeling off colonial buildings, the 'xe om' drivers sleeping on their motorbikes, the painted phone numbers “tattooed” all over the city’s walls, the aroma of coffee floating over the Old Quarter.

I like the busy streets packed with dozens of shops, all selling exactly the same thing. I like the Vietnamese women shouting all day under my balcony, masking the sounds of car horns down the alley.

I like Hanoi because it forces me to stay awake, to stay alert, to keep my eyes open.

I like Hanoi even when it’s trying to kill me. Every single day.

I like Hanoi because it doesn’t sell itself cheap; like the rest Vietnam it doesn’t hand itself over on a silver plate.

After two months in town I’ve mastered the “sidewalk dance”, the traffic choreography, and I know when to stop breathing to avoid peppery smoke or the smell of garbage, but I’m still a beginner and every day the city pulls some new stunts and tricks… sometimes it gets me, sometimes not. It doesn’t matter anyway: I like Hanoi because it keeps surprising me.






"I was young when I left France, and I never found my way back home. So I’m circling the globe taking pictures, writing stories and making my publisher happy!

In these pages I hope to share some of my experiences, a little bit of my adventures and I hope to inspire you to embark on a journey or to keep traveling if you have left already.

The answer is not at the end of the road; the road is the answer."


For more pieces like this, go to ilefthome.com, he pours his heart there.

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