My favorite part about Hanoi was perching on balconies overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake or the ever present roar of motorbikes on the street below; drinking iced coffee with treacly condensed milk, creamy fresh milk, or decadent egg cream whilst listening to compilations of romantic French chansons or bopping along to the self-appointed DJ’s mix of S Club 7 and Eurythmics. Every single day we visited at least 2-3 cafes. Partly to grab wifi to plan our next stop or meet with our Hanoian compadres, but also just to feel the wind in our hair and sit cross-legged on plush cushions. After kicking up dust all day in Birkenstocks, working on that calf curvature, my favorite thing to do was unstrap my shoes and put my feet up whenever we stopped to drink coffee. That probably sounds really gross, but no one cared and it was so comforting and freeing to be outside of my rules-based existence in Tokyo.
In the course of 3-4 days in Hanoi we visited no less than 7 cafes: Note Cafe, Pho Co (2x because this was my favorite rooftop lookout spot), Cong Caphe (2x as this is a chain), Giang, Loading T (2x because the owner Sun was such a homie), Tranquil Books & Coffee, and Dinh Coffee. I have no regrets.
[text continued below]temple of literatureon Sunday when the street is open to pedestrians only and a festival atmosphere invades the Hoàn Kiếm District…life is tops at Cafe Pho Co, my personal favorite cafe…feat. my super fly manicure from Orchids Spalittle girl practicing her roller blading in Lenin Park (Thong Nhat)Vietnamese Women’s Museum [looking down]Caitlin was my travel partner for our 9 day trip in Vietnam. We met on move-in day for college dorms and we’ve remained good friends to this day, never letting more than a year pass before we see each other, and always in different places (so far Richmond, VA, Washington D.C., San Luis Obispo, Oakland/SF, and she visited me in Tokyo). We both have ambitious dreams and every time we reunite we treat our time together as check-ins about where we want to go next. Most importantly, I cherish the honesty in our relationship. We are both very growth-oriented and want to continuously improve and learn from our human errors and vulnerabilities. As much as friends should be cheerleaders in our lives, they should also be able to point you towards real obstacles and inspire you to overcome challenges. I love that we’ve maintained this beautiful support system and our first international trip together was definitely a friendship level-up. This was taken just 5 days before her graduation from medical school. Congratulations Dr. Caitlin! ❤
Dan Q. makes a Hanoi cameo…a night at the Hanoi Opera…when lovely strangers want to take a photo with you…
hello from the Long Biên BridgeOne
You’re like a dream come true
Just want to be with you
Girl, it’s plain to see
That you’re the only one for me
Repeat steps one through three
Make you fall in love with me
If ever I believe my work is done
Then I’ll start back at one
‘Back at One’ by Brian McKnight is the inspiration for this blog title. It also happened to be the first dance song my brother Will and sister-in-law Priya chose for their wedding ❤
xo your friend alice
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam