Well, I’ve been here in Hanoi for two weeks now. I’ve walked the city in a few directions, got lost, got found, relied on Google Maps only at the end, and found places where a beer tastes mighty damn good at the end of 13,000 steps. I feel like I have a regular regimen now about doing things. i rarely get going for the day before 11am or later and find a place for breakfast and coffee. I decide to take off in a direction and spend some hours walking in a variety of directions. Around 2pm I decide to generally head back because I like stopping for beers at 3 or 4pm. its not really difficult to navigate here because the “court of last resort” is Google Maps which will always get me back. If I did not have a data plan on my phone, things would be more drastic I think. l have not walked down every street here too many times, but I have found the streets that lead me back to Hong Kiem Lake which is handy. One could get by with a static map but lets face it for a few bucks US you can get a data plan for your phone.
I’ve heard a few questions about how long I plan on staying. I got a 6 month multiple entry Visa here for a reason. I plan on staying in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City that long. That’s not to say I will not take side trips or tours in each place. In a few weeks I will go to Halong Bay for some days. Then after will go to Hoi An. I think people come to this using business travel as a yardstick. Business travel sucks. I have done it way too many times. You go to a place and the business dictates your stay. It tells you how long and where and what to do. In effect, you are at the beck and call of the company and its requirements. Long and slow travel is different. You decide the length and what you will do. Its not about how quick you an fly out and back and take care of the meetings. Its about finding your way in a city of mystery with an exotic nature and settling down. To live. Business travel is not about settling down to live. You chalk up the frequent flyer miles and Visa stamps. Done deal. You have a plan that is the company’s plan. It tells you your start and stop. You are simply along for the ride.
No dear friends. This is not like that. This travel unwinds slowly and you find things of value that are up to you. Its completely different. If you want to plan a RTW and mark of countries on a list, great. At the end you will have accomplished a thing. Not for me. I’ve done the business travel. It was great when I had it. Now this is different. This is moving in and finding out the joys and mysteries of Hanoi or Phnom Penh or wherever you set your course.
One friend did not get it. I think he believed I had to have a goal. So many places in so many days. Truth is I only have two stamps in my new passport. One for Japan and one for Vietnam. Life unfolds slowly. There is no webex calls to do. There is only the ebb and flow of Hong Kiem Lake and the people that are moving faster than me.