Addicts are never far from a dealer in Hanoi, and the range of their offerings is impressive.

Đá or nóng. Nâu or đen. Green tea for those seeking salubrious refreshment along with their drug. The quick kick of sugared variety. Nicotine, seeds, fruits, sweets. And nhân trần for the comedown. Available a foot off the ground at this corner or the next.

They are the venerable stages where one of the city’s many endearing contradictions plays out. Despite its incessant rush onwards, its constant construction, its traffic, its hustle…a large proportion of its inhabitants still seem to possess a surprising amount of time for sitting around, drinking, eating, smoking, and chatting. It’s that work-life balance everyone’s always talking about. Or just staggering inefficiency. Whatever. It’s freaking great. Loitering, watching, and imbibing at these institutions are three of my favourite things to do. It’s how I’ll judge the progress of my Vietnamese—by my expanding comprehension of the neighbourhood drama. In the Hanoi I explore and leech inspiration off, they’re a constant feature.

Point being: no matter how much I may enjoy mucking around with the blogging thing, my words remain incredibly subjective. And this subject is—as well as an outsider and as far from an “authority” as one can be—also almost certainly under the influence of way, way too much caffeine. There’s a reason “jitter” can mean “distortion”, “noise”, and “undesired deviation”.


Studying Vietnamese at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi, Vietnam. Once wanted to be a journalist but after two years of watching and listening to ~4 hours a day of overwhelmingly shitty, parochial radio and TV, am now not so sure. Read a lot. Music taste lies somewhere between ‘eclectic’ and ‘multiple personality disorder’. Languages interest me an unusually great deal considering I’m currently monolingual. I enjoy imagining the pictures I would take if I didn’t ruin them by actually pressing the shutter button. So much of what I love is like that—strange magic I can’t hope to mimic but deeply respect, admire, and cherish. Occasionally though, I’m arrogant enough to think I could write something someone else might enjoy. A little.

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