I have been living in Hanoi, Vietnam for the past six months now. Leaving Seoul to move to Hanoi was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
However, it is time for me to move on. I’m not quite sure of the plan yet, but that’s the beauty of life. With my recent position at VIPKID, I am now able to travel and backpack more freely without having a steady job. This opens a world of possibilities, and I am excited to take the plunge into the unknown. However, there are quite a few things I will miss about living in Vietnam.
Things I Will Miss About Living In Hanoi
The Expat Community
The expat community here is absolutely amazing. From the first day I arrived in Hanoi, it was so easy to make friends that share similar mindsets. I feel like the people who end up in Hanoi are an eclectic bunch of characters. From fire dancing, to hula-hooping, to reiki, I’ve tried new things here that I formerly wouldn’t have thought of. I feel more awake in the midst of all this crazy chaos than I have ever felt in my life.
The parties have always been memorable. I will remember my nights out in Hanoi as a mixture of glitter, hidden jungle raves, body paint, and trance music. The expats in Hanoi embrace their individuality. As of late I haven’t been going out as much, but I will remember the nights out here fondly.
Like India, people typically either hate Hanoi or love it. The chaos can be overwhelming to some, but I love it. Having constant stimulation from the outside world offers me the chance to tune in and be present. With the constant rush and sensory overload, there comes a sense of inner peace.
Hanoi is many things, but boring isn’t one of them. Some of the sights are unpleasant, like a pig being slaughtered next to my house, or a gruesome bike accident. Some of the sights are strikingly beautiful. One day, on my way home from work, I saw a border collie flying down the street like a gazelle. It was such a sight, everyone on their bikes turned and watched. I was worried as he neared a big intersection, but at the last moment he stopped. To everyone’s surprise, his owner was driving next to him. With a quick whistle, the dog jumped on the bike and they carried on their way.
Hanoi is unlike any place I have ever lived, and it’s constantly surprising me with its contradictions.
For those of you who don’t know, I have been teaching abroad for three years now. I now work at a language center in Hanoi, Vietnam. I have also been teaching yoga to four year olds, which has been undoubtedly one of the most fun jobs I have ever had. The pay is great, and most days I only work 2 hours a day. This flexible schedule allows me time to pursue other interests and goals. Combined with the low-cost of living, this makes Hanoi a very lucrative place to save and make money. As always, I love my students and the joy of teaching never ceases to be rewarding.
Hanoi itself is a crazy, busy city with limited nature. However, waterfalls, rice paddies, and beautiful mountains are easily accessible on a quick bike trip. The landscapes in Vietnam are unlike anything I have ever seen. It may be my favorite place I have visited, aesthetically speaking. There is nothing in the world like driving through dragon-ridged mountains and rice paddies. Wind in hair, a song in my ear, and the feeling of absolute and complete freedom.
The food in Southeast Asia is unbeatable. Although Thai food still takes the cake for me in terms of favorites, I love Vietnamese food as well. Not to mention, the coffee! Be warned however! A cup of black Vietnamese coffee is incredibly strong. It feels a little bit like a drug, but I love it! I will fondly remember eating banh mi’s laden with avocado and egg, drinking a cup of coffee, while watching the sunset over Westlake. Not to mention the fresh rolls, the noodles, and the pho!
Although I will miss Hanoi, all things are transient and must come to an end at some point.
The world is calling, and I must go.