Hanoi Girls ease the soul
By Roland (from Vietnam)
Hanoi girls don’t interest me at all - this was the thought running through my head as I arrived in the city. Wherever my eyes landed they found a pretty girl, but the truth is I just wasn’t interested in dating anymore. My friends often tell me I’m hopeless. I don’t argue.
I have absolutely no luck with women. Since the day I walked in on my university girlfriend and her previously-thought-gay best friend, romance has brought me nothing by misery. I didn’t bother even speaking with her afterward. I just packed my bags and left.
Low-cost living, tasty food, and beautiful agenda-free ladies, that's Hanoi.
I’m not by nature a negative person, far from it. I hurt like
hell after my first girlfriend’s betrayal; we’d been together two years
after all but I wasn’t bitter, not yet. That came later. Over the next
ten years I lived in a dozen countries and dated as many women. They
came from different places, they had diverse backgrounds. Some I dated
more than a year, some only a few weeks. One thing was always the same -
the relationships ended badly every single time. It feels like each
time I think I’ve seen the worst that my love life can throw at me, it
sets out to prove me wrong.I’ve spent a lot time trying
to think of a way to break out of this pattern. I looked inward; I’m
obviously the common denominator here after all. At first I thought it
had to be my taste in women. I tried dating a girl who was the exact
opposite of the kind I normally found myself drawn to. It went well,
very well, right up until the day I woke up to find her gone along with
the contents of my bank account…
Perhaps it’s something about my personality then. I began to analyze, even over-analyze, everything I did and said. I searched desperately for a reason, anything that could explain why this keeps happening. I gave up on that when I discovered that my then-girlfriend had not one, but two other boyfriends. No matter how I looked at it, I couldn’t think of a single way it could have been my fault. Maybe I’m just a sap.
By now very nearly a full-blown cynic, I began to very carefully screen the women I let into my life being alert to any possibility that I might be taken advantage of. That didn’t work at all. The suspicion eventually turned me into such a miserable misanthrope that I couldn’t make it past a first date. I gave it just one last shot after that. With much effort I pushed my bitterness aside and asked a girl out. I barely felt anything when she stole my car and disappeared three weeks later…
That was over two years ago, since then I’ve more or less completely given up on dating. Yes I’m hopeless, and yes I’m bitter. I’m a cynic, and I’m okay with that. I’d rather be lonely forever than go through the heartache even just one more time. This was my state of mind when I came to Hanoi, trying to date Hanoi girls would just bring me more misery, I was sure of it.
Hanoi girls and life in the city
I’d come to the city for work. Well no, I suppose that’s not entirely true. With my line of work I could live anywhere in the world, anywhere with an internet connection. I came here in search of a new experience, something to distract me from the drudgery my life had turned into, but Hanoi girls were not part of my plan. I enjoy traveling, something about seeing new places and learning about new cultures brings a smile to my face. When the novelty wears off however, the smile goes too.
So I was in a good mood when I set about exploring the city those first few days here. The sights and smells were new and interesting. I mentally compared them to experiences in other places. It never ceases to amaze me how many ways there are for things to be different. The Hanoi girls too I noticed. I was a misanthrope, but I could still enjoy the sight of beautiful Vietnamese girls. Before long I realized my mental comparisons had spread to them as well.
Vietnam, and Vietnamese women, are very different to most of the places I’ve been. Foreigners aren’t as common here as they are in many other Asian countries. For once I didn’t feel like I had a target painted on my back, a mark to would-be scammers and gold-diggers – provided that I steered clear of the very tourist-infested Old Quarter that is. Nobody I spoke with seemed to want anything of me and the looks I received were motivated by nothing more than simple curiosity.
This may explain why, when I found myself speaking with a young woman a few days later, I was able to converse free of my usual apprehension. I was at a trade event organized by a group of local wine importers, attending as a guest of a well-connected new colleague. She introduced herself as Tai. She was beautiful and I found myself immediately attracted to her, but being the cynic I am, I saw in her no more than the opportunity for interesting conversation.
As I chatted with Tai, I began to notice something I hadn’t seen in years, if I’d ever even seen it at all. We were having a proper conversation. A real exchange. The kind where the other person actually listens to you, instead of just trying to think of what to say next while you speak. This girl was eloquent and knowledgeable. She didn’t look through me. She really wanted to know what I thought. It was incredible. If this is what Hanoi girls are like, then why on earth have I waited so long to come here?
Tai told me that she was only home for a brief spell, in town to visit family, and was leaving again the following day. She worked in the south of the country where she did PR work for a hotel chain. I was barely able to conceal my disappointment. To meet such a girl and then learn that I’d only know her for a single night. Fate is surely too cruel, I thought, but I was too busy enjoying my evening to dwell on it very long.
She seemed to like my company as much as I hers. We conversed the entire night, my cynicism seeming to evaporate a little more with each passing hour. We spoke of politics and the arts, of commerce, travel, music and the human condition. Our conversation seemed to move seamlessly from one topic to the next. Some were light, some were soul-crushingly heavy. Each was treated to the same frankness and thought. Never in my life have I enjoyed speaking with someone more.
When the night finally came to an end we walked arm-in-arm to her taxi. A brief kiss, and then she was gone. I drove home that night with a peculiar mixture of emotions. I was sad knowing I’d not have the opportunity to get to know Tai better, but also incredibly happy that I had gotten to know her at all. I began to realise that I actually wanted to date again. I wanted to go out and meet more Hanoi girls. I didn’t know if Tai was just incredibly unusual, or if many of the Hanoi girls shared her approach to life, but I wanted to find out.
After a brief foray into the bar scene taught me that most Hanoi girls do not in fact speak English, I decided to shift my efforts online, and discovered a dating site called Vietnam Cupid. It’s worked well for me so far. I’ve got my first date lined up for this evening. Wish me luck.