Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A short tour of the neighbourhood

We are not living in the centre of Hanoi, but rather in a area a little north of the Old Quarter called Tay Ho or Westlake. As the name suggests it is the area that surrounds a rather large lake called Tay Ho or West lake. Unlike the centre of town, which is extremely busy with traffic and people, Tay Ho can feel quite sleepy in parts and has a lot more greenery than I had really associated with Hanoi. While this is less exciting than the Old Quarter, it also makes it a lot more friendly for the kids.

Lily's school is also in Tay Ho, but it's in a particular area of Tay Ho called Ciputra. Ciputra is basically a large gated community for expats. It's clean and tree-lined, but a little lacking in services or character. We toyed with living there so that Lil could walk to school and to the houses of her school friends, but just couldn't bring ourselves to do it in the end. It just felt too weird - like we were avoiding living in Vietnam or something, which wasn't what we wanted. Lily isn't very impressed with our decision...

Here are some photos of our neighbourhood (and a couple of Lil's school from Saturday soccer).
View of the lake from a nearby lane way.

Lily playing soccer at school. (You can see Ciputra in the background)

More soccer. She wasn't so keen on the running part...

Tay Ho flower market.

Kinderpark. Small person heaven. Parental hell.

Fine, I did smile once.

Our local park - a very unusual expanse of grass.

An entrance to the maze of alleyways that lead to our house.

Unusually for Hanoi there is almost no traffic in our area, except twice a month when everyone visits the pagoda.

Our neighbours are currently hosting a funeral party. Apparently it will go for several days.
The music is very loud and Charlie is fascinated by it.

A short tour of the house

We moved into our new house in Hanoi a month ago today and we are just starting to really settle in and feel at home here.

Our house is located in a maze of alleyways near the main pagoda or temple in the Tay ho (or Westlake) district of Hanoi. It was new when we moved in and totally empty. We also moved in about two weeks before our stuff was delivered, so at first it felt a bit like camping.

Now we are mostly unpacked and the place is transforming from an empty shell into our home. It's a lovely place, with big windows and lots of space and light. This makes me feel simultaneously lucky and sickeningly overprivileged - a state of mind that describes many of my feelings about living here.

Anyway, here are some photos:
View from the rooftop
We thought this was a durian tree, but apparently its a jackfruit.
View from the front door.
I love the big windows in the loungeroom.
Hanging out.
Living areas.

Home office - bit more space than my little cupboard in Melbourne.
(Paul's desk is on the other side of the room, just out of shot)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

So I've been wanting to post

There have been so many posts whirling around in my head lately: so many words and so little time to write them down.

I want to write about settling into Hanoi. How surreally lovely our new house is. How weird/nice it is to have a nanny for Charlie and how excellent it is that he loves her. How much better it has suited Lily to start school this time around, now that she's older. How cool it is that her class is full of kids from all corners of the globe and my thoughts on how this might affect her.

I want to write about living in a maze of alleyways that are too narrow for cars and the way that they are alive with neighborhood sounds and salespeople on bicycle who sing about their wares. I want to write about the dominance of the car in our built environment and ask what we lose through this and how it could be different.

But I also want to write about other issues. I want to write about feminism and motherhood, and the insidious role that neoliberal logic is playing in some of the debates that are currently going on. I wanted to write specifically about the intersection between AP and feminism and the willful ignorance of those who claim they're incompatible. I wanted to write about the way that breastfeeding and baby sleep are commonly written about, and the excessively individualistic framework of these debates.

I wanted to write about my experience of the gift of motherhood - about the way that amidst the mundane and repetitive work of it I found a new space to reexamine my identity and my passions and to give myself permission to discard pressures that I've unthinkingly carried since childhood. I wanted to examine the way it's allowed me to redefine success on my own terms - even as it has restricted some of my freedom to realise these new ambitions.

I wanted to write about my PhD. About why doing it was a really bad idea and how hard it's been to combine with motherhood. I also wanted to write about my more recent realisation of what I've gained from doing my PhD, and how it wasn't what I expected, but may mean that ultimately it was a good decision...

But instead I just had to get all those beginnings down and out into the world. I hope I get the chance one day to flesh them out...


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