Hello from a glorious sunny and blue-skied Hanoi! The grey gloom of January has lifted and it’s tee and sunny-gs weather this weekend. I’m told it won’t last long, so I’m making the most of it this weekend with walks and some alfresco drinks yesterday. Sunshine always puts me in a good mood – especially the first sunshine of the year – and this is added with the fact I finished work on Friday for a 2 week half term break. Right now, the prospect of 15 days plan-free is just bliss. I’ve got lots of things on my ‘might do’ list for the fortnight – some productive, some not so – and that feels real dreamy right now.
This Coffee & A Catch Up comes from Labonte (17 ngo 35 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho). Labonte has been a firm favourite brunch spot of mine since it first opened in late 2019. All the food is vegan or veggie and the salted caramel latte is as delicious as it sounds. Two of the walls upstairs have large windows, so on days like today, the light pours in and the breeze blows through.
I hope you’re enjoying these fortnightly posts. It’s lovely to check in with you and look back on my fortnights. So without further ado, here are a few updates from me and Vietnam! There will also be some big news coming later this week!
Covid is back
I’ve written many times about how well Vietnam has done in tackling coronavirus. In fact, many have applauded the Vietnamese government and people for how it’s been handled. In total, the country has seen under 2000 cases at the time of writing. Since lockdown ended last May, the population has been able to live ‘normally’, going to bars, restaurants, the theatre, on holiday and so on with little to no restrictions in place, since there was no community transmission (except for one outbreak in August which was dealt with quickly and effectively). Unfortunately, last week, there was another outbreak. Again, the government moved quickly, and as of Monday this week, all schools have been closed, masks are being worn and further restrictions and advice is coming out regularly. As it stands, we’re still able to move around, go to shops, cafes and so on, so I’m making the most of this just in case! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m so grateful to be here, where a fast-moving approach has meant the pandemic hasn’t hit lives as hard as in many other countries.
I mentioned in my post about January in Hanoi that Tet was just around the corner. Tet is the Lunar New Year celebration, and it’s the main celebration for locals in Vietnam. Certain streets are hives of activity, full of cherry blossoms, kumquat trees and bánh chưng (a traditional rice cake made from glutionous rice, mung bean and often pork). For many Vietnamese people, this is their one holiday of the year, and so I hope that they’re able to travel – safely – back to their relatives and hometowns this week! In a few days time, the city will pretty much close down, I’m told. I’ve never spent the Tet holiday in Hanoi until this year, so I’m intrigued to see how quiet it gets! I’m also hoping to head to the Old Quarter to Hang Ma (‘Celebration Street’), which will be full of lanterns and decorations. I’ll share photos on my instagram account if I do!
5 Things I’m Grateful For
Blue skies and the feeling of sunshine on my skin. I don’t think I felt this at all in January, so it’s a real treat!
2 weeks off, at home, to spend how I like.
Jumpsuits, and how I can dress them up or down so easily.
Vietnam’s responses to covid. I’ll always be grateful for the past year given how different it could have looked if I were elsewhere.
I’ve been reading
I just started David Nicholl’s Sweet Sorrow. I’m not far enough through to make a judgement on it yet, but I have enjoyed his previous works so thought I’d give this one a go!
I’ve been listening to
Where the Crawdad’s Sing. I finally finished this audiobook earlier this week and adored it! I saw it hyped up a lot last year and bought it, but kept putting off starting it because I honestly wasn’t that bothered when I read the blurb. I’m so glad I gave it a try though! The descriptions were beautiful and I loved the story! It kept me on tenterhooks too. I also haven’t really listened to many audiobooks since being a child and renting tapes from the library. Again, I loved being able to listen to a story: on the bus, in the bath, as I cooked… I’ll certainly be buying some more!
Dermot Kennedy’s cover of Days Like This is just beautiful and it’s been on repeat a lot.
I’ve been watching
One day, I won’t write Gilmore Girls here. Not today though. Perhaps this half term break I should get into something else too…
Now, over to you. What have you been reading, watching or listening to lately? Or what are you grateful for? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to get to know you readers better! xx