Ve Nha (VN Diary No. 34)

I'm back "home" in Hanoi. Arrived yesterday in a driving rainstorm that flooded some of the streets on the outskirts of town. On the recommendation of one of the guidebooks, I'd made a reservation at a hotel on Hai Ba Trung called The Artists, but when I arrived it was just a little too funky for me and this morning I checked out and moved into a place that costs four dollars a day more, but which is an order of magnitude more elegant. The other place had a certain boho charm and would have been fine when I was in my twenties, but it was not a place I wanted to spend another two weeks. The new place, the Huyen Trang on Hang Trong Street, is great -- quiet and spacious and with a really good shower. My only complaint is that the coffee in the cafe isn't strong enough. "Ve nha" means to come home in Vietnamese and returning to Hanoi after Saigon and Hue does feel like a homecoming -- one in advance of my real homecoming in two weeks. Unfortunately, I'm having a reoccurance of the intestinal issue I had a couple of weeks ago, so I'll probably have to go to the clinic tomorrow and get a dose of cipro. I don't actually feel all that bad, except that I notice that the traffic and the shoeshine boys are more irritating when I'm feeling a little off. Usually that stuff just rolls right off me. Truth is, I'm a little bored. I suspect the feeling will pass as I recover and when, after the weekend, I go back to language lessons and take a cooking class. There is a psychological turn in a trip like this, though, and I think this weekend is that turn, or the beginning of it. I'm still planning to get a number of things accomplished, but I've begun thinking about what I'll want to do when I get back to South Colton and Carole and the dogs and all the weeding I'm told awaits me in the garden. Update: Feeling much better this morning. Looks like I won't need to go to the clinic for meds, though I'll withold a fianl decison until tomorrow morning. Took a walk around the Old Quarter. and hardly noticed the traffic and the shoeshine boys and cycle drivers vying for my attention. Found myself interested again in the Vietnamese words of things whereas yesterday I'd been entirely indifferent. So I walked around and took a bunch of pictures and found myself  at one point grinning from ear to ear.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

5 thoughts on “Ve Nha (VN Diary No. 34)”

  1. Get well soon!

    Couldn’t your family come to visit you for a while? Or be with you until the end of your stay?

  2. May, it’s a very expensive trip for a single week. But next year I have plans to return with my wife, who has never been to Hanoi.

  3. Hey Joe. Hope you are on the mend real soon. The heat and humidity make every ailment worse. Just so you can feel the relief vicariously, we are expecting widespread frost tonight. The news this morning started with hints on how to protect your garden.

    You are missed here. I’ve been following your trip faithfully, and it sounds like you are doing some good work and opening up possibilities for the future. Please take care.

  4. Hey Chris, good to hear from you. I did wind up going to get some Cipro for my gut, but it seems to be working well. I do think I’ve made some interesting contacts, though as is usually the case they are not the ones I imagined when I set out.

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