Hi Hanoi Travel Blog | Chapter 4

r.j. kushner
3 min readDec 18, 2023

This morning Nhi handed her parents my phone and invited them to scroll through my photos. I am not an expert on international crimes, but I believe this may qualify as one.

I hurt my back sitting on a wooden chair without a cushion for too long so now I can only sleep if I have one leg sticking up in the air. I continue to impress all with my ability to adapt.

We took an hourlong cab ride to a relative’s home for a visit. I’m starting to feel very comfortable in the city’s famously chaotic traffic. John Updike writes about the thrill of having someone trust you enough to fall asleep while you’re driving them. I wonder if cab drivers feel this when I close my eyes and my head bobs around like a big baby in the back of their taxi.

Our relative has a big beautiful home in old town and I was given thick slices of kiwi to eat while the adults spoke with each other. There were two giant, stunningly ornate grandfather clocks right next to each other in the living room, along with a wall clock and one turquoise table clock. I couldn’t imagine the stress of keeping them all accurate. I meant to ask what the story was with all the clocks but it never came up. They gave me two kiwis for the road.

Nhi and I took a walk to a mall that is about 15 minutes away from her parents’ place. We stopped to get coffee at The Highlands again. I ordered a larger size than last time but it came back smaller and different. I asked Nhi to double check if it was the larger size and the young woman working there said that it was. She said they use the same-size cups but just put more coffee in them if people order the larger size. Dubious.

The sidewalk to the mall was crowded with cherry blossoms in preparation for the Lunar New Year, so we had to walk on the highway a bit.

The mall here is new and massive. It’s like walking around in the Death Star, but with way more perfume samples. It was four levels, each one packed with people and shops. We strutted around all the fancy expensive stores and Nhi pretended to only speak English so the salespeople wouldn’t bother her.

The cinema on the top level was playing Aqua Man, Wonka and a vampire-looking Vietnamese film that Nhi said translated roughly to “The Sun Guy.”

On Sunday we visited two little cousins and they both hated me. I feel like I usually have pretty good instincts with small kids, but my decision to pick up their toy phone and pretend to call them about their insurance turned out to be a severe miscalculation.

We came back to Nhi’s parents’ place and I read a chapter of A Separate Peace and then slept for 14 hours.

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r.j. kushner

Dubbed by the New York Times as “all out of free articles this month.”