2017-Mar-09 01:30 ICT | Mai Dich, Hanoi, VN
Ah! Hello, Southeast Asia! A rush of humid air rose to meet us as we moved down the skywalk towards the terminal. It was late at night (early in the morning?) and humidity had dropped to what I assume was a reasonable 400%. Noi Bai International Airport is smaller and less modern than Narita, but still very clean and easy to navigate. A few minutes walking, 45 minutes in customs, and we were off to find our family.
Quynh’s grandpa and mom met us at the airport with a hired driver to take all of us and our belongings the 45 minutes back into the city. Our driver (I’ll call him Gomer) was a quiet and alert man. Gomer, ever concerned for the safety of his manifest, drove 10 km/h under the limit all the way home. I’m fairly certain that for all but a few of the 26 km journey, our left turn signal was engaged. Was this to thwart any bad guys from knowing where we’d go? Was Gomer a Tổng cục 2 agent assigned to keep us safe from harm? The world may never know. Gomer dropped us off at Ong Hung’s house in Mai Dich, a neighborhood 20 minutes west of the Old Quarter, and went on to his next mission. God speed, sir.
Now that we’d all reached our new home base, we could make with the introductions. I met Quynh’s grandpa officially: Ong Hung- a handsome, proud man who clearly loves Quynh very much. I next met Quynh’s aunt, Co Nga. Co Nga is pretty and very outgoing– if only I could understand more! Co Nga lives literally around the corner from Ong with her two sons and husband. I next met Bac Nguyet, Quynh’s other aunt. She seemed very interested in talking to me, but I need to up my Viet language skills. She doesn’t live around the corner, but about five doors down the street! Family stays close in these parts. Quynh’s dad introduced himself next. A carpenter by trade, his thin muscular arms extended me a handshake and a beer. He set us up to use his room to sleep, while he took over Quynh’s old room.
Out of common courtesy to the world, I figured I should grab a shower before going to bed. In many houses, water heaters are present at the usage point and as such, wired in locally. I never though I would shower with higher voltage in a non-waterproof setting. I guess folks in Viet Nam are tougher! I said a quick prayer to whatever deity was interested, and turned on the water.
It’s 4:30 in the morning and there’s a f*cking rooster crowing. In the city. A rooster. Good morning, Viet Nam!
Morning in Ha Noi brings back lots of fond memories of Greece and Sint Maarten. From about 05:30 onward, throngs of motorbikes take to the streets while exhaust fumes and government radio notices carry through the air and tease the senses. Birds chirping have been replaced with the ubiquitous bleat of bike horns. Quynh hasn’t slept at all, I caught about 2 hours. First morning thoughts? I love this place.