Travel Plans

Got my visa for Vietnam yesterday -- A big gaudy sticker that takes up a whole page in my passport. The embassy very efficiently turned my application around in three days, so here's three cheers for the socialist bureaucracy! I'm not leaving for a month yet, but wanted to get this bit of paperwork out of the way -- it's the last little detail I needed to take care of before traveling and also is symbolic, marking the fact that, after eight years, I'm really going back to Hanoi, my favorite city in the world. It's not a "great capital" like London or Paris (I've been to both), but it is an intensely human city, a city in which one can walk (and walk safely) just about anywhere. And yet the customs and structures of reality in Vietnam are sufficiently strange for an American that they induce various forms of heightened consciousness, ranging from the sublime to the intensely irritating. I've only been studying my Vietnamese language in a desultory fashion, alas. I think I'll be in pretty good shape when I actually get there. My Vietnamese was rough but serviceable when I lived in VN before and I have a better sense of the grammar now than I did then. I'm really hoping this trip will jump start my language learning, that I'll continue over the next year, and then be able to return the following year. Knowing even a little of the language makes a big difference to how one is received, not that the Vietnamese are anything but hospitable. Anyway, I have a few more weeks with my Rosetta Stone and audio tapes.

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.

1 thought on “Travel Plans”


    Here in the few last days before the disaster
    when the whole world gets to play its
    non-speaking part in our national reenactment
    of how a titanic economy hits the iceberg
    of reality and sinks with all the poor onboard
    and a few of the rich onboard some country
    music playing here in the last dim days before
    the disaster I stand in my own backyard
    while I still have a backyard its own private
    quadrant of stars and debris and compost
    which is which to have taken the world
    like rotten apples thrown against a wall
    to have driven it all into the ground
    or to have eaten our own children?

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