It’s not Hanoi (or Vietnam), it’s you.
I’ve long had all manner of #Hanoi related searches and lists set up in Twitter.
There’s a list for foreigners in Hanoi and a column that catches any mention of the city.
Two years ago tourists were complaining about taxis, and rip offs real and imagined.
They’ve stopped whining. Travel and food bloggers, back and flashpackers, journalists by the score and TV faces, they all love Hanoi.
In fact those most consistently hating on Hanoi (and wider Vietnam) tend to be expats. Not the newcomers but the old heads.
Which suggests it’s not Hanoi (or Vietnam) it’s them. We don’t miss what it was, we miss what we were.
Hanoi is harder and less fun once you’re old…because so is life.
The air got worse? Maybe but then again no one monitored it back then. It is now, which seems like progress of a kind. Smoggy days started well before there were smart phone apps.
The noise is infuriating but not so long ago I would have been out too much to care. I have to remind myself of that.
So much does need fixing but oddly — in a time of Brexit and Trump — it’s comparatively easy to be optimistic for Vietnam.
More opportunities, more things to do, the food got even better and there’s so many more places to go. I don’t worry it’s getting worse. If anything I worry it’s getting too popular and I’ll be pushed to its margins by richer newcomers.
But the kids are still having fun. Living on pennies. The way we did. Cheap beer, motorbikes and that intoxicating madness.
Nothing stays the same and not everything can be better. But as a whole, Hanoi is. Take another look and think again. It’s you.