Writing & Living in Hanoi, Vietnam
It’s the weekend in Vietnam and you have no idea what to do? Here are 10 suggestions that don’t involve a heap of cash.
1) Resolve to learn Vietnamese: We can easily find half an hour, or a lot more, to expend on Facebook, so we can find time to do something that is actually useful in our daily lives. There are plenty of resources out there online or persuade a Vietnamese friend to teach you.
Google search – learn Vietnamese online
YouTube search – learn Vietnamese
2) Skype your parents: When was the last time you did this? Message them right now and set up a time to Skype this weekend. Skype is brilliant for bringing family and friends together. It bridges the distance, but only serves to remind you how far apart you are geographically. Nonetheless, it will be good to see and hear the olds again for a wee yarn.
3) Go on a bus trip: Yes, I bang on about this a fair bit but not without good reason. Leave your motorbike at home and catch a bus to one of the local sights you haven’t managed to see yet. Check ahead online in case they are closed though. I have found this web page useful in figuring out the bus network.
4) Learn a song for your upcoming karaoke evening: Even if you don’t have karaoke lined up, it is always useful to have at least one song in the bank. Knowing the tune and not stumbling over the words will partly camouflage how rubbish you are at singing. Dancing in front of a mirror with a hairbrush is optional. Go to YouTube and search <name of song> + lyrics
5) Start that book you have always wanted to write: Find time, space and peace and quiet to unleash your inner muse. Don’t worry about plot lines and summaries for now, just get going and bash out those words. The difficult part is actually putting words on the page.
(According to legend, Douglas Adams spent two years staring at a blank screen before he got the first paragraph down for the follow up to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Of course, a hefty advance and a room full of electric guitars may have had something to do with this.)
As your thoughts develop you can get all ‘creative writing’ once you have a fragment of an idea down on paper. Or rather online. Store your meisterwerk on the cloud and you can utilise those creative juices whenever and wherever the creative urge arises.
6) De-clutter: It is astounding how much stuff we can collect without even noticing. Do a ruthless edit of your belongings and clothes and weed out the excess. It will be easier to do now rather than later when you have time pressure because you are moving on. Believe me, it is only stuff. And you have to carry it. Getting rid of things is cathartic. You will not miss 98.5% of the stuff you jettison.
7) Do something that takes you out of your comfort zone: Be brave and test your limits. Most of the time you will surprise even yourself. This could be riding side-saddle on a motorbike. Or going into a bia hoi and pointing at random at a dish on the menu and hoping for the best. Use your imagination.
8) Get out of Ha Noi and reconnect with nature: Buses and trains are good options if you don’t fancy hitting the open road on your Honda Wave. There are loads of places within an hour or so of Ha Noi that are worth visiting for the landscape and clean air. I visited the Co Loa pagoda complex last weekend and that was good. Head out of town towards Dong Anh. I took xe buyt 17 from Long Bien.
9) Try some dedicated me-time: Soak in a bath. If you have one. Or treat yourself to a spa visit. Sometimes being pampered a little is just what the doctor ordered.
10) Go for a run early morning or early evening when it is relatively cool for such pursuits. Alternatively, join the ladies who bust some Zumba moves in various parks and open spaces throughout Ha Noi.
These are some of my ideas. If you have an alternative things-to-do idea, please share it by leaving a comment. Be nice.