November 25, 2015
31 in Vietnam
The moon and graceful karst cliff overgrowth effortlessly created a Vietnamese painting above Ha Long Bay. © Miracle Romano
It would be lovely to be able to say this about every country: What gives this place its charm is their women. © Miracle Romano
Introduced to Vietnam by the French over a century ago, coffee has since then played a vital role in their economy. Today, Vietnam trails behind Brazil as the largest producer of coffee in the world. The number of cafes in Hanoi alone is astounding — but absolutely pleasing to a coffee-lover! Cafe sua da, coffee prepared with a uniquely Vietnamese single cup filter called “phin” and served with condensed milk, has been my daily companion and source of warmth in the cooler regions of Northern Vietnam.
But warmth came to me in different forms during this trip: There was the hotel receptionist who stood outside with me for over 30 minutes at dawn during a downpour until my bus came, there was the bus driver who shared some of his lunch with me because he knew it was going to be a long trip and noticed that I didn’t have any food, there were the schoolboys who offered to let me take the raft with their group so I wouldn’t have to pay… these people hardly spoke a word of English but translated kindness eloquently. How futile words are in the face of genuine unselfishness. This trip has broadened my vocabulary of kindness.
Ha Long Bay © Miracle Romano
Yes, I traveled solo on my birthweek, once again; strangely distancing myself from the people I love; tangling up the strands of fear and courage in a beautiful, crazy mess; humorously attempting to defy a song by being an island, standing alone.
But by withdrawing myself, I realize this: You know you have loved the most wonderful kind of people when they made you flourish in their presence — and who continue to make you flourish even in their absence.
Yes, I have turned 31. But I am more than a thousand stories old.