Hanoi dreaming

I know that I’ve already posted about Hanoi, but seeing as it’s my current home, I don’t think that I’m quite through with this city, and its myriad inhabitants, yet…

Riddles I-V


At night I sleep and awaken. I transform myself from my lesser incarnation and jump out of the small hole in the front gate, to roam the night. I dominate a place where in daylight I skulk and fear to tread. I am no longer cautious about being seen, knowing that I blend with the darkness. I use my voice to announce my arrival, un-muted and immutable, a living god.  

cat poster Hanoi urban graffiti




I am small, but humans flee from me. I am weak, but strong in number. I am invisible, an unseen mover who lives in the same physical space and time as many predators, yet escapes unharmed. I bid my time, and my strength is my survival; I do not fear death, as any number of my descendants will replace me, and hold up our ranks…but up here, death feels far away.



My family told me not to go. You belong with the country-folk, they said. Do not venture into the metropolis, it brings only danger, they said. Yet I had heard about a place, close to the lake, where I might pass my time unnoticed, amongst beautiful flora and fauna. My siblings pleaded with me, but I had made up my mind, and set my tail. So my tale began, and, before I had learned of the fate ahead me, I wandered at my leisure through a place unknown, and felt as though I had gone where few had gone previously.



I’m not sure what there was before this pool of shimmering light. I don’t really remember. Perhaps there were others like me, with me, my mother? I like it here, I think I have just about enough space and…I don’t really remember. I’m not sure what there was before this orb which I find myself suspended in. What do I look like? A swirl perhaps, or a waterborne flower…I’m not sure. Strange, shapeless forms come and go on the Outside, in the light. To be honest though I don’t really –

tropical fish in glass bowl, Hanoi cafe



We came in with the rains, and leave with the sun. This has always been the way. Some chase others, some run from us, but the wise welcome us. We’re part of the fixtures and fittings you see (well, you don’t, and that’s the idea, actually). We might appear to be alone, but this is rarely the case. We’re not parasites though, goodness no, we get terribly upset about that whole thing, it’s sort of our pet-hate. We perform a service, we’re giving more than we take, whatever they might say. We are proud of our skills, and though I can’t claim to represent all of us, we are, genuinely, much more afraid of you than you could ever be of us.


For the curious


Answers (multiple);


  1. Black Cat (lives opposite). 
  2. Rat (office infestation), though thinking about it, mosquitoes are also possible.
  3. Mouse (spotted by Hoan Kiem lake). 
  4. Fish (on table in bowl in cafe I take Vietnamese lessons in). 
  5. Lizard/ gecko (living room of Mr. Van’s house) a spider could also be a good answer though.


NB, part of this post was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s A Dream of a Thousand Cats.


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