Final Week In Hanoi – Field Recordings

Three recordings from my last week living in Hanoi

Firstly on the edge of Hồ Tây. To kick of my nostalgic walk I went back to the neighborhood of my first home in the city four years earlier, in the alleys just off of Đăng Thai Mai street. I had followed the road around to the end of the Tây Hồ peninsular past the Bánh Tôm restaurants and into the courtyard of Phủ Tây Hồ. It was a hot day and I remember the strength of the sun whilst looking out toward the other side of the lake, then back to where I was standing. At this point my ears were drawn to an unexpected sound without an obvious source. As I got closer to the edge of the courtyard I discovered an idle rowing boat tethered below the lake’s railing. Unable to drift away the boat was lapping water between itself and the wall, its wooden body amplifying the bobbing sounds in contrast to the calm pagoda ambience.

1:20 – Alley, birds and seller. A recording from my final house on the exact opposite side of Tây Hồ, just off Phố Võng Thị. Anyone spending months in Hanoi will know what to expect from a residential alleyway but what interested me in this case was the unique range of large birds I had seen in some cages belonging to my neighbors. There’s a post-lunch sluggishness in the typical alleyway activity and I think the birds felt that also, but between them and the seller on a push bike their calls were just loud enough to keep me from a two hour mid day food coma.

3:00 – In my penultimate day in Hanoi I walked from my house near the lake down towards the centre of the old city taking a detour via Văn Cao and the Lotte Tower. I stopped off at Hồ Thủ Lệ – the body of water surrounding the zoo – as it was a place I’d often ridden past but never explored. Facing the water with my back to the skyscrapers around the Kim Mã / Liêu Giai junction and flyover I picked up on more that I’d ever noticed whilst on a bike in that part of the city. A surprisingly relaxed atmosphere drew my ears to the fountains and pedalo park in the lake. Before I drifted off too far into the sound of the, this time, cyclical water lapping, a tannoy announcement squawked out across the water. A little reminder that despite the momentary calm I was in fact still standing in one of the busiest parts of the city, a trick that Hanoi can easily play on you.