June 30th, 2011 I finally landed in Hanoi my dream trip to Vietnam had begun. I was very excited. I had signed up for classes in Vietnamese and in my free time I planned to travel and live life to its fullest. Everyday I would go to class at 830, study for 3 hours and than have the afternoon and evening free. At the airport I was greeted by a guy named K (he would not want me to use his real name). I had met K on the internet a few months earlier and we had become pretty close. He was very helpful in getting me set up in Hanoi. He introduced me to his friends, showed me around the city and taught me how to drive a motor bike.
My time in Vietnam was exactly what I needed intellectually as well as emotionally. On the intellectual side, I learned a lot of Vietnamese and I got to see some amazing historical sites. I ate all kinds of amazing and unique foods. I got to experience Vietnamese culture first hand and I loved it. Emotionally, my trip came at the right time in my life. Almost every person I met while I was there was gay. I was able to be open and honest and act however I felt comfortable. I went from being "that guy coming out of the closet", to just another guy. Every time I kissed a guy while I was there (so many beautiful Asian guys;)), it felt completely normal and main stream as opposed to in Israel where it always felt taboo. I no longer thought to myself that I was dealt a bad hand of card and that if I could become straight I would. I had carved out my own little "gay world" in Hanoi and this allowed me to finally become completely comfortable with my homosexuality.
About a week or so into my trip I got a text message from a guy named Hoang. Before I left for Hanoi, my friend Long had told me that I should contact his friend Hoang when I arrive because he thought we would get along. After I arrived, I was too nervous to just contact Hoang since I had never met him. But one day I got a message from him and we agreed to meet up that night for dinner. To be honest, the very first thing I noticed about Hoang was that I thought he was one of the most beautiful people I had ever met. Having had some success with R in Bangkok, and K in Hanoi, I was very flirty with Hoang. But our relationship never went in that direction. Instead we became amazing friends.
It is stunning how quickly one person can become a central figure in your life. It was as if we had been friends forever. Hoang and I would meet up almost every day and we would talk for hours. He introduced me to some of his friends who were all very nice people. He planned a trip for the two of us, to the cities of Hue and Hoi An in central Vietnam. One night when my hotel had to temporarily evict all the guest, I called Hoang and he came right over to help me out.
All too quickly me last last night in Hanoi arrived. Saying goodbye to Hoang was extraordinary difficult. I had gotten so used to seeing him everyday and the thought of not seeing him for a long time was hard to handle. I cannot imagine how my trip would have been had I never met him. I am sure I would have had a great time, but because of Hoang my time in Vietnam was amazing and one of the best periods of my life.
As emotionally difficult as it was leaving Vietnam, I was coming home to something much more difficult; coming out to my parents. But that story will have to wait for another post.
Here are some links to some of the pics from my trip :)