Sunday, May 23, 2010

This is the Life That Everybody Asks for

I get asked, almost daily, when I am returning back to the US. When my little "adventure" and experiment is over. Let me answer you all, here and now. I have NO IDEA when I am returning, and I like it that way. I am going to stay in Hanoi until I stop loving it, and after Hanoi I don't know what I'll do. I may return to New York, or I may spend some time in France to bring me back to fluency, or maybe I'll live in London.

The truth is that I don't know and I don't feel like I should have to know. I don't feel like I am missing out on anything by not living in the US. Yes, of course I miss my family and friends, and there are moments (like my brother's 18th birthday or when K&D got engaged) that i wish I could've been a part of, but right now i feel like I am a part of something much bigger.

I feel like I am really living life, that i am enjoying everything it has to offer and that the opportunities out here are endless and exciting. Every day is an adventure. Some of my friends out here who read my blog have mentioned that I don't fully capture my whole life out here, that experiences and moments aren't shared with the rest of you. One even went as far to tell me that I'd be a terrible journalist (jerk) but I find that to share everything would be impossible...however if any of you are so inclined to take a trip out here, I'd be happy to show you my world.

Let's talk a bit about my world and why i don't want to leave it:
1. I live in an amazing house, in an amazing location with one cool roommate and one who I fight with daily but he's leaving in 8 days so hopefully by next week it'll be two cool roommates.
2. My job is three days a week. The guys I work with are two of the most hilarious enigmatic people that I've ever come across.
3. I am able to engage in a very enjoyable lifestyle and comfortable style of living here. I joined an amazing gym with a pool and I am often found poolside, working on my tan, sipping a cold beverage in my personal oasis from the hustle and bustle of this hectic city.
4. The people you meet while living as an expat are unlike the majority of those you'll come across at home. It takes a certain type of spirit to pack up and move to Asia, and so any stereotypes about nationalities must be disregarded. Most of the people I've met out here are educated, interesting, adventurous, and approach life with a fresh outlook.
5. Due to my incredible schedule, I am afforded the luxury of being able to hop on a plane and spend a long weekend (every weekend if I should so desire) in a different country or city and experience new things/culture
6. There are many more opportunities here for me right now than anywhere else
7. For the first time ever, I'm living life completely on my own terms. The only real responsibility I have is to myself.
8. I'm learning the meaning of growing up, being an adult and becoming independent
9. Hanoi is amazing. everything from the people, the food and vibe makes it difficult to not fall in love.
10. I'm happy.

So, that's where I am. Obviously life isn't perfect. Life as an expat means recognizing that most of the people you meet out here come with expiration dates, that they won't be here forever and inevitably the ones you become close and dependent on will leave you and there is a huge chance that you will never see them again. There are motorcycle accidents, lonely moments, internet outages, not having an oven, and the craving for a decent hamburger but I think the good by far outweighs the bad. The most important take away I've gotten is learning how to live in the moment, to take things as they come and to enjoy things while they last instead of worrying about what the future has in store.

Until next time.


  1. I recently saw a blog post which said Hanoi had become the kind of place you could easily while away a lifetime.

    I agree with that.

    It's very odd that what seems to some as the most big, dirty, polluted city that is so unforgiving is, to others, the exact opposite.

    It can feel very laid back, even quiet at times, very welcoming and very very beautiful.

    I think it is a wonderful city. I worked here for two and a half years and then left but I couldn't get the place out of my mind. Now, after three years away I am back and loving it.

    It's a great place.

    On top of that you've outlined why being an expat is such a privileged existence.

    Also I can get my head around the growing up bit too. I was here last time with a volunteer organisation and I reckon I didn't really grow up till I shed that and became independent.

    You might say it was about time, what with me turning 40 next year.

    But this is a great city, and a great life.

    It seems like you've done a lot of traveling but for so many people it's not an option they've even considered. And yet, this seems so much easier than living back in the UK for me.

    Glad it's working out for you here.

    I find Hanoi is a great filter. People I like, like Hanoi.

  2. Love love LOVE this entry. I feel exactly the same way about the part of Vietnam I'm in.

  3. Vietnam is such a special and magical place. Obviously it's not for everyone but when i first came here 6 years ago I fell in love, felt such a strong connection that I knew it was only a matter of time before I returned here...and my infatuation has turned into a full blown love affair.