Lesson learnt on day one – book a hotel with all the fancy amenities when you arrive in a foreign country. It helps with the culture shock. Ok, got that sorted.
Second day in Hanoi was much easier. Spent a few hours at the Museum of Ethnology. It was great. Got my boy the Arsenal top he wanted. Tick. Had my first street stall meal. Lobster and shrimp noodle soup. $3. Delish.
Then retreated to the new hotel. Plush rooms, international TV and a rooftop pool. It was worth every cent. Found a cute Bohemian cafe at St Joseph’s Square where we sat and watched the kids play soccer. Drank Hanoi beer and ate turmeric fish. At peace.
Now we are in Hoi An. I remember why I loved it so much. Tranquil yet bustling. Cultural and calm. Serenity infuses my pores.
I hired a scooter. Haven’t riden one before but I did a motorbike course once. Thrilling and liberating. So. Much. Fun.
We got lost on the way to the beach. Down little laneways. Past paddy fields. Grandma’s were passing us. Felt at one with Hoi An.
Ate clams in ginger and lemongrass on the beach and my boy played with a kid from the Netherlands.
‘I wish we lived here,’ my boy said. Funny, we nearly did.
It was the plan when he was just five months old. My boy’s father and I were going to move here for 6-12 months. It was an escape. A change. I just didn’t realise it wasn’t the change I needed.
So caught up in the viscious cycle of abuse, any escape would do.
‘I strongly advise you do NOT move to Vietnam. You will be alone. You will be totally isolated. You will have no one.’ I had never heard my therapist be so strong. She had raised her voice. I felt I had no one anyway, what difference would it make?
‘Don’t go,’ she said.
I didn’t. I found the strength to make the change I needed two months later. I left him. I needed to protect my child. I needed to protect me.
Now we are here.
Now we are free.