Hanoi: San Francisco in Vietnam

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Back at the Hanoi Backpackers Hostel, I woke up the next day to meet one of my roommates — a tall, blond Dutch woman who was also traveling solo. We got to know each other a little bit and agreed to meet up later to go on a tour of the city. At first I was a little hesitant to go around town with someone I just met, but I was open to it — after all, isn’t that partially what backpacking and traveling is all about?

It actually ended up being pretty fun. The Old Quarter of Hanoi is pretty cool…we just walked up and down the streets past busy store fronts and around the lake. There’s not much to do around there, touring is just a good way to soak up the local scene.

We really spent most of the time getting to know one another – she’s 37 and traveling by herself for like 4 or 6 months. She’s a nurse, which enables her to love the work that she does every day helping people, AND allows her to travel the world (when she has to meet up with patients in other countries). She wants to have a family but isn’t stressing it. While some of her friends can’t travel anymore because they are struggling to take care of their families and kids, she gets to go around the world and do whatever the fuck she wants. Being single sounds pretty sweet, huh? In actuality, she does have a boyfriend back at home – a little 26 or 27 year old kid that is totally in love with her. She cares about him too, but told him that she couldn’t make any promises since she’s going to be away for so long.

They say that traveling opens you up to a lot of new things. For me, being in Hanoi meant meeting people who have a really open and carefree view on life. Every person that I talked to in Hanoi taught me about what it means to truly live and explore the world – without worries, without being stressed out about meeting certain goals, without worrying about judgment or what other people think of you. It was pretty liberating.

Later that evening, Jimmy and I met up to get Vietnamese BBQ for dinner – a corner open air restaurant where everyone sits in tiny chairs and tables around the ground. We went to the front to pick from an array of BBQ items (tofu, squid, shrimp, ribs, pork, veggies, and honey bread -OOOOOOOOHHHHH that was good!) and sat down to wait for our dinner. Fcking tasty.

I have to hella appreciate Jimmy for bein the bomb-ass host during my stay in Hanoi. He took me to this HELLA tasty “chocolate” restaurant to get warm chocolate cake and tea (that’s one thing I miss from home – CHOCOLATE), and later took me to a spot where some band was supposedly playing. We didn’t make it to see the band unfortunately because we pretty much talked for hours  about life shit. Besides being a great host, Jimmy’s fucking brilliant. Here’s a sample of some of my many realizations from our conversations:

* Trust our intuition (the little angels on our shoulder will tell you what’s up)

* Stop caring so much about what other people think – or what you think that other people think. “Your friends are right, but they’re also wrong” (Jimmy)

* If people don’t like it, fuck them.

* A good way of looking at our purpose: “Helping everyone ‘level up'” (stop being static, grow!)

* One of the stories that Jimmy told me was about some nature show he was watching about jellyfish. Apparently, jellyfish get smarter when they move around and learn from their movements…when they get old and stop moving, they join together to become a blob and just start to die off. In other words, grow or die.

* I realize that want to do art – but not for money, anymore. I think it just fucks up your art.

* Everything is mental (happiness psychology). We are what we think. Our language is so important – it dictates not only our realities, but who we are (and how we see ourselves).

* “Art should shine a headlight” (Obama). We talked a lot about art – what it means to us, what we want it to do, what we want to do with it, our purpose, (etc).

* Instead of going to grad school, make connections with people and intern with them – work with people for free until you get the experience you need.

* I want to find a job that also promotes my own happiness and goals (teaching, connecting with youth, inspiring growth, making change, gaining insight and wisdom, gaining a better understanding of how the world works – think also about what’s relevant to my strengths and my background). Would I want to try teaching English? It would meet a lot of my goals…and allow me to travel! Could I live somewhere else to learn another language for a little bit?

* You can best impact other people’s lives by being a role model, not by telling people. People need to find their own way.

* MAKE MOVES (“what’s the worst that can happen?”)

* Live balls out! Change or die…

* The next night I saw him, we talked a lot about how to best teach and pedagogy – how Jimmy gets his students to learn has a lot to do with being concise, clear, and … I forget the 3rd. Shit. But as he says, “If you can’t memorize the concepts in your head without a script, how are you going to get your students to remember that information?” People tend to just remember the last things that you say, so keep it short, compelling, and sweet. Hey, maybe compelling is the 3rd “c”?

There’s a lot more but that’s all I remember for now. Fucking brilliant. I should hang out with artists and people who don’t give a fuck waaayyyyy more often.

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Posted: January 30, 2012

Author: Tiffany

Category: Asia, Blog, Vietnam

Tags: , , , ,


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