Hanoi, Hanoi, Hanoi.

Being ‘the older backpacker’

Unfortunately, I speak with no auhority on leaving behind the vanity of my gorgeous twenties. Now 30, and evidently one of the senior citizens of the bustling Hanoi Backpackers, I look in the toothpaste-sprinkled mirror and I still see the sexy fall of my golden hair and the bronze shade of my sun-kissed torso. My supposed handsomeness. The past. These are the things I notice, again and again, like an addicted gambler hoping that it all adds up to something eventually.

The herenow is my second evening in Hanoi. Today has been a foothunt for the bicycle that will carry me south to Ho Chi Minh city. Hanoi backpackers is a typical blend of mainly WASPs. We’re a pleasant bunch. We kinda do take our luxuries for granted though. I feel a great relief I’ve never before experienced while on the road like this: a complete disregard for fitting in.

I’m enjoying the constant playlist of microevents since my arrival. The Aussie 18-year old in Guangzou who high-fived me when I told her I was also Year of the Dog. The rabid airport pickup. The midnight tour of the 5-storey backpacker premises in the knuckle of the charmingly decrepit Old Quarter. The flawlessly made up and sophisticated 23-year-old student at the bar who’s in the process of saving Africa.

As I write, confusion and disorientation is steadily melting into a warm joy I haven’t experienced in years. It’s pure love for all these whipper-snappers. And freedom! During my trip to the Philippines last August, I pre-booked my dive course and lacked the freedom to leave the disgustingly over-everythinged town of Sabang. I’ve also road-tripped in between, but nobody’s home country can conjure the truly exotic. This really is becoming the footloose moment of the past 5 years.

But it’s too soon to say anything. Tomorrow I continue the hunt the supplies. Inspired writing to follow, you vicarious vampires. The ease of time to spill…

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