Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Joy Of Getting Lost

Street scene in the Old Quarter, Hanoi
"Not knowing where you're going is the best way to get somewhere you've never been" -J. Peterman

It happened in Bangkok. It happened in Saigon. And now it is happening in Hanoi. I'm learning to live with it.

I am not particularly directionally challenged, but the labyrinthian nature of these cities makes it very easy to lose oneself. However, once I admit to myself that I am hopelessly lost, it is easy to embrace. Lost is lost, and there are no degrees of being lost. You are either lost or you ain't.

The Old Quarter of Hanoi is the perfect place to get lost. Lord knows I try and remember the way back, but after about the fourth turn, I'm done. I do take some solace that I have yet to take a taxi or moto in this city without the driver having to seek directions from a third party. Its not just me.

On the upside, my nightly ritual of getting lost has led me to finding two places listed in the Lonely Planet that I wanted to get to. Tonights serendipitous find was Mr. Minh's Jazz Bar.

Mr Minh is the capo de capo of jazz in Vietnam, a virtuoso sax player who decided to open a bar to keep the fledgling Hanoi jazz scene alive. Tonight I was hopelessly lost yet again when I stumbled upon the red neon of Mr. Minh's establishment. Suddenly, I don't give a good godamn where my hotel is. (like the remote, its around here somewhere) I saunter in, delighted.

For the next two hours, I am treated to the finest jazz that Indochina has to offer. My advice to you is Get Lost! And my deepest gratitude to Mr. Minh and his band for sharing their prodigious gifts with me.