In summer 2018 I had the opportunity to travel to Southeast Asia with a close friend. Hanoi was our first introduction to Asia, neither of us had been anywhere in the region before this trip, and what a perfect first city it was. When we arrived in our hotel in the Old Quarter in Hanoi, we were greeted by the staff with an important lesson: how to cross the street in Hanoi. We were instructed to wait until a good time. If we were not sure when it would be a good time, watch the locals and go when they go. Once you decide to go, maintain eye contact, only move forward, never step backwards and never stop moving. With these words, which are applicable to so many aspects of life, our adventure began.
Hanoi is a city with a frantic pace. It is not possible to move one step without being completely engaged in the moment and aware of all your surroundings. And yet there is so much peace to be found in simply being present in the moment. And if you need to collect yourself, simply enter any one of the many coffee shops, cafes, or restaurants. Or walk to the lake and practice Tai Chi with some of the locals. Peaceful respite is everywhere, you only need ask.
We both loved the pulse of the city, the friendliness and hospitality, of the people. And the food. We took a cooking class, and experienced a local market, where the fish are so fresh their gills are still moving. The bouquets of herbs that are served alongside every dish are fragrant and unlike anything I have seen anywhere else. I will always have Hanoi in my heart.