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And what a year it has been… How fast it’s gone, yet how long it seems since we were partying with our huge Hanoi Family crew, pumping beats so loud, allowing our house to be trashed by the masses of gatherers who came to celebrate with us. And what a mess we were. A great start to a great year…. The ladies (neighbours) we found cleaning our house when we woke up, probably didn’t think so!

It’s been an intense rollercoaster of emotions. Over the course of the twelve months, we have watched friendships grow and shrivel, couples forming and disintegrating, we’ve waved goodbye to some truly incredible people, and welcomed new ones. Everyone fits in here, it’s truly remarkable.

For myself, one of the highlights of my year, was getting to know my cousin, whom I had never met, having never met my Dad or any relatives from that side of the family. Such a mix of emotions which still, a year on, rush through me. How can I feel so close to someone I’ve ever known? I’m still always looking at facial similarities. Though there may not be any obvious striking ones, I enjoy seeing the subtle ones pop out every now and then.

The other important, and actually pivotal element of the year was meeting Brendan. From hooking up on 8th January, we haven’t left eachother’s sides. After an intense whirlwind episode in Cambodia, we completely flourished and completely changed the direction of 2012 for the both of us. Despite later learning that there were some skeletons in his closet which he hadnt cleared out yet, I’m happy to declare that, one year later we are a strong and dedicated couple with plans to travel to India, Burma and return to travel Vietnam, from next month… Will keep you posted.

So what else? I have changed Work places several times and have also doubled my workload. Many ears have had to endure complaints due to my fatigue, lethargism, etc… And I have missed many a social event as a result of working 8am – 8/9/10pm, 7 days a week for almost 5 months now. Frankly, on reflection I could not have made a worse decision for myself and would recommend to everyone else to start trying to save money from the day you start working if you intend to travel later, don’t start at the end. This has been a huge learning curve for me.

Homesickness has come and gone several times, throughout the year, though a visit home and a visit from my mum definitely helped. Though we haven’t really spent a long period of time together since I can remember, it was refreshing to find that we can spend almost 3 weeks together with no dramas. After a few days in Hanoi getting mum adjusted to the chaos, and learning how to cross the roads, We then went on and enjoyed a lovely 3 days in Ha Long Bay & Cat Ba. This is a truly wonderful part of Vietnam and I wouldn’t consider one visit to be enough. An incredible week trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, was another of my most memorable and remarkable memories from 2012.

And how do we end the year? Same way we started it of course! Though this time, we were not holding the party! Infact, a messy event at new venue, Madake, was a good start, continued later from 3am to 9am at 21N, overlooking West Lake! Quick beverage in a posh French bakery (Saint Honore) was slowly but surely devoured by the last few standing, before finally making our way home. Face planked the pillow, and woke up the following morning, ready for work on the 2nd.

Hanoi, I love you.

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