This post is also available in: Vietnamese
“The heat. Asian heat is not like other heat, it’s a thing all its own. It seems to get into you, feels like it’s softening your joints, your bones. It’s a viscous, living thing.
“Feels like if you fell over in the street you might actually not reach the pavement. Instead you’d be buoyed up, bouncing quietly up and down on a cushion of hot air until someone took pity and righted you again…
“I like it. It fills me with a sort of languid energy, and while I’m in Vietnam I feel simultaneously wiped out and able to do anything, forever.
“Hanoi wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s chaotic and noisy and constantly in motion, sure – but then there’s this sleepy charm that pervades the place, a dusty, old-fashioned feel, like the rest of the world has gone digicam but here reality is still filmed on rickety Super 8. Listen closely and you can almost hear the click and whirr of the tape spooling through the gate.
“Cake shops, coffee, long drinks with dully thudding ice cubes, the constant dragonfly hum of a million million motorbikes…
“The days just stretch out in Hanoi and, talking comic book art with a Vietnamese friend over the world’s best pineapple juice as dusk descends, I think: I could live here. I could come out here for a year or two, everything’s so inspiring, so different… I could get a whole lot of new ideas out here.
“That was almost a month ago and now I’m back in London. We’re having a heat wave but – eh, it’s just heat. Not that special heat, not that Hanoi heat that gets inside you and slows your soul and claims you as its own.”
When Andy sent me this, he told me a guilty secret: he liked HCMC too.