I make it a habit to go to Lá, my favorite restaurant in Vietnam, between two and four in the afternoon, just after the mid-day rush and not too close to dinner time. My meals are usually eaten alone or in the company of one or two other late diners, but today was a bit different.
Lâm Chấn Huy—sadly, I had to ask who he was because I didn’t have a clue—and his film crew decided to use Lá as the backdrop to what will presumably be his next music video.
It may have been my “I’m eating now, don’t F with me” face or simply the fact that even if I do show up on film I will be out of focus that left me undisturbed and at the next table over from Lâm Chấn Huy. Whatever it was, I thought it was pretty cool to be able to watch the actual process of making a music video in Vietnam.
Without looking like too much of a jerk I was able to snap off a few photos of the mayhem. I figured it was a fair trade for having my mid-day retreat disturbed by fame in the flesh.
He looked so unhappy the entire time. I felt a bit sad for him!
Adoring fans peer into the restaurant window.
Lights. Camera. Action!
I guess they were filming the two cut bread together. It was so strange.
Let’s wrap this up folks.
So that was that.
My friend Yến, who is from Hà Nam, will marry today. Some of her friends in Hà Nội, myself included, are not able to make it, so we drove the quick 60 kilometers to Hà Nam yesterday for Yến’s pre-wedding gathering.
I posted the photos here. Although I have a history of avoiding weddings, funerals, and birthday parties[1. I’m strange.], I had an absolutely wonderful time in Hà Nam with friends from my guesthouse, not only at the party but also on the drive to Yến’s hometown and the return to Hà Nội.
It has only been six weeks since I packed my bags and moved from Ho Chi Minh City to Hà Nội, but I’m already very happy here. I’ve made a lot of new friends, settled nicely into my new digs, and become close with my coworkers at Hanoi University. I’d really rather be nowhere else than right here at the moment.
When I first moved to Hanoi I lived in an Old Quarter guesthouse for nearly 16 months. During this time I became very close with the hotel owners and staff members, who are all now friends of mine. The following photos are from the wedding of one of the hotel’s receptionists. Even after living in Vietnam for so long I had never attended a wedding, so this was a wonderful new experience to share with my new friends.
Helicopters, people on rooftops, empty alleyways; sounds about right for Hanoi’s 1000th birthday party. I doubt I will go anywhere other than my balcony today. Crowds have a history of driving me mad, and if the last nine days have been any indication, Hanoi’s Old Quarter will be absolute bedlam for the next 18 hours.
My neighbors, trying to catch a glimpse of the helicopters
One of the many helicopters floating around Hanoi’s Old Quarter
A massive parade will happen along this road tonight.
My alleyway is so silent right now.
Happy Birthday, Hanoi.
Expats tend to think they are unique little snowflakes. We are unique, but so is everyone else. I’m convinced that those of us who choose to study, volunteer, work, or simply live in Vietnam go through the same types of emotions over time. The feelings, person to person, are always the same. The only thing that varies between us all is the time it takes for each one of us to figure this all out.
I’ve reached the “Meh…” stage. The good in Vietnam is never really all that great, and the bad is usually just a consequence of a temperamental state.
Never trust an expat who has nothing but good things to say about his new home. Avoid expats who do nothing but focus on negativity.