Photography: Streets of Hanoi: Lydia Gracia.
When it rains in Asia, it does not always abate. Its people, however, do not stop, raincoat in a matter of seconds to be able to continue riding on a motorcycle through Hanoi and San is over.
However, being Spanish Socks as was our case, a torrential rain makes it slightly impossible for you to continue visiting the capital of Vietnam.
In an alleyway, between Hàng Bông and Thợ Nhuộm, dodging motorcycles, vans, street stalls and the occasional element, we took refuge in the Cumulus restaurant. A garage dressed in several wooden chairs and tables with a sign hanging in plain sight: «I have a dream».
There he receives us with a wide smile. His real name is Cuong Nguyen, but everyone knows him as William Cuong. He has been smiling at life for 40 years for the granting of a second chance since his birth, in 1979.
«I believe in education. The government teaches us a lot about politics, they don't care about the character of the people or their way of learning »
In the Chinh Ly commune, in the Ly Nhan district, the children are dedicated to cleaning shoes and selling postcards. William did all that to give his mother money. Good fortune came with the visit of a couple of ambassadors to Hanoi.
In its purpose of Help the poor children Like him, he entered the city's high school: «They always laughed at my age difference». However, the education that others did not have allowed him to become a restaurant owner and earn a living.
When a war as atrocious as that of Vietnam ends with the resources of millions of people, he recognizes us sitting there, while preparing the food dishes that we have asked for, that every day the most important thing is that he «walks with his two feet, has work, hands and face, many people cannot say the same ». It refers, among other things, to El Orange agent, one of the herbicides used by the US military as part of their chemical warfare program during the war.
«TripAdvisor is very competitive. We cannot access a good location because there will always be a relative of the owner of the premises that has priority »
The meat we have ordered begins to brown on the plate and tells us that it works to survive and that its only objective is to pay the rent of the house that it shares with 3 people. We know his wife, while preparing a mango juice.
He acknowledges that education has been essential to open the restaurant and that he remembers every day what it was like to go hungry in the street. 40 years later, applications like TripAdvisor They allow you to have a network of positive comments for your business. He teaches us several, but he acknowledges that it is more complicated than it seems: «we never allowed ourselves to dream of a restaurant in the city. TripAdvisor is very competitive. We cannot access a good location because there will always be a relative of the owner of the premises that has priority ».
However, he acknowledges that what he does allow is to make his story known and that "some tourists come to support my dream."
«Mass tourism is very good because many poor people get a job»
The food is almost ready but when I promise that I will tell his story in this magazine, he searches through his belongings and shows me a Dutch newspaper in which other tourists gave him the opportunity to appear. He laughs by teaching me the irony of the page. It appears in it the news of the summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un and in a photo they shake hands. Under the US-Asia pact, his story: «A journalist read about me on Instagram (@street_kid_restaurant_) He came to dinner and interviewed me ». Between the lines, you can read that the topic analyzed was the capitalist opening of Vietnam, which serves as a model for North Korea.
Being this a cultural magazine, I can't help asking you about your vision of culture and mass tourism. On the first it is clear: «I realize the culture of Vietnam, I believe in education. The government teaches us a lot about politics, they don't care about the character of the people or their way of learning ».
I am not surprised at the second question, which saddens me even more from my position and the place where I was lucky enough to be born: «mass tourism is very good because many poor people get a job«.
I remember the phrase that rests on its tile wall: «I have a dream». And he answers me when I ask him where he would like to see himself in 5 years: «I would like to see myself without having to worry about renting the house and being able to travel within the country».
Of course, everything we eat is exquisite. He teaches us how to eat it like a real Vietnamese family. Like the one we are forming while telling our stories. As an expert in gastronomy, emphasizes as essential the Bún Chả, Phở Bò (beef noodle soup) and the neman (spring roll). And after trying them I subscribe.
Meanwhile, we watched as the rain was reducing. The irony of that day was such that we were taking refuge in a place where a history of greater refuge awaited. As he himself pronounced, his story is «A perfect storm movie in which no one survived».
Before I leave I assure you that I will contact him and ask him for advice. Not for me, but for those who read their story: "I would advise them to go to school because without education there is no work."