Posted by: sharemore1 | September 29, 2011

Welcome Back to Hanoi

Where is the Madame?” our local merchants kept asking my husband Moshe, when he moved into our old apartment in Hanoi three weeks ago.

The Madame has returned, easing back into life in Viet Nam, where I do feel welcome.  The couple at our local vegetable stand greeted me warmly, as I communicated in sign language and fumbled with the money, just like before.  The family at our favorite pho restaurant urged me to hold their baby and invited us to help celebrate his first birthday this week.

Almost One Year Old

There have been some changes since we left nine months ago.  The building where the pho restaurant used to be has been gutted and Moshe had to wander around until he stumbled upon their new location.

Our corner restaurant has been remodeled under new ownership.  Now known as the Mansion, it has a modern look, with red and black banquets and a raised side room (no shoes allowed) with low tables and wifi.  The food is only slightly more expensive than it used to be, up to $4.00 each for dinner and a beer.   And the manager speaks English.  The only drawback is that smoking is allowed, so we sometime eat at the sidewalk tables.

Outside of the Mansion

The Queen Bee Club is new on the block, with a sign proclaiming it is a “for your comfort and pleasure space.”  Another perplexing message is written with a permanent marker on our front gate:  “Please Close the door When Locked Out.  Thank’s.”  If you have an idea what either of these signs mean, please let me know.

Queen Bee Club
Please Close Door

Since the English in our neighborhood leaves something to be desired, we’re going to start working with a tutor this week to learn some Vietnamese.  Moshe has a rudimentary vocabulary but has trouble with pronunciation and I’m pretty much starting from scratch.

Leaving a quiet and yet hectic life on Vashon Island, I’ve entered a noisy, but somehow relaxing world in Hanoi.  At home I have many responsibilities—for the house, the yard, for children and grandchildren.  Here with excellent and cheap Vietnamese food available nearby, we shop and cook only when we feel like it.  A pleasant young woman cleans our one-bedroom apartment and does our laundry three times a week.

I am free to read and write and play with photography while Moshe is busy teaching mathematics to honors undergraduates at the Hanoi University of Science.  This should give me plenty of time to bring you along as I continue to explore life in Viet Nam.


  1. Welcome back to Hanoi, Sharon. I hope you will have many interesting things to write about Vietnam this time. See you soon.

  2. Sorry, I am unable to help clarify the signage. I think learning Vietnemese is your best bet. We miss you!

  3. Can’t help you when it comes to the signs, however I love hearing about your life in Hanoi.Guess we are going to have to refer to you my your new title, madame!

  4. Perhaps we are better off not knowing what the sign on the Queen Bee Club means…. Another great post that made me want to jump on the next plane to Vietnam. Elsie

  5. “for your comfort and pleasure space.” I’ll explain this when you are a little older.

  6. The sign was very funny. Let me know when you solve the puzzle. We’ll miss you today Sharon.

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