Last time I gushed about my love of Hanoi and Vietnam I was mugged the next day. This time, the time elasped was much less.
I had dinner with my new coworkers on Tuesday night at a spot not too far from my house, about a 15 minute walk. I like to walk as much as possible, not only for the exercise but I genuinely enjoy walking and am lucky enough to live an area that it's possible to walk many places.
So after a lovely dinner, in which I got to know my new coworkers better I ambled home along Hai Ba Trung. This is where the problems started.
So I start to notice this guy walking behind me a bit oddly. I speed up a bit. I don't want be paranoid or jump to conclusions but I got a really weird vibe from him. He then comes up next to me with a cigarette and asks if I have a lighter. I randomly have matches from dinner in my purse but tell him I don't have anything because, as I said, he seemed weird.
At this point I start mapping out detours I am going to take so I don't lead him to my house.
I pick up the pace again and for a bit it's ok but he comes up again pointing at something, I think a cigarette again, slurring something. I don't want to get close so I say NO very loudly and realize I need to get the heck away from him so I cross the street, I started to panic when he followed suit. There were three ways to deal with the situation 1. get a xe om (which in retrospect, I should've done) 2. nothing and hope it goes away or 3. tackle and confront it. Bullies thrive on being intimidated and are usually derailed when someone is not. I turn around, look at him and SHOUT at him "STAY AWAY FROM ME" something he seems to understand and says ok ok.
For all appearances, he disappears and I am very proud of myself for not being afraid and taking him on. I'm almost in front of the Hanoi Towers, a mere five minutes from my house and I'm starting to feel home free. Next thing I know, he reappears behind me, runs up, shouts something and gropes me. I wasn't robbed. I screamed very loudly and said GET OFF OF ME and held up my fist. If I'd my wits about me, or been more prepared I would've drop kicked him hard. And it would've hurt.
At this juncture I am really upset, so I walk in the middle of Hai Ba Trung as traffic darts around me. I'm still unaware as to whether this freak is hiding and watching me so I ran 1 min into a frequent haunt of mine crying and the guys I know who were there got all protective and tried to go outside to find the guy. I sat there for a bit to let the feeling pass, drank a cranberry juice and then got a ride from one of the guys who works there.
It was jarring, violating and weirdly humiliating. It made me feel stupid for feeling invincible and allowing myself to get swallowed up into the Hanoi Bubble. But this, like anything else, could happen anywhere. I am not giving up on Hanoi just yet.