I am currently in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi is in the northern part of the country. I think Hanoi is what I thought of when I would try to envision what a Vietnamese city is like. The old quarter, where I was and currently am staying is a complete maze of small streets and alleys – all filled to the brim with motorbikes, tiny eateries, ladies carrying baskets of fruit on head and shoulders, of course bars, restaurants, guest houses – and silk galore –and pretty much anything else you might desire. A shisha club down the street seems to have been my go to spot the past few days to sit on the sidewalk, drink a beer, and watch the crazy world go by.
Pat and I sadly said goodbye on Sept. 27 – we were in Vientiane, Lao. He was headed to Bangkok to get his flight back to the States – and I on a flight to come here to Hanoi. I realized how unique our experience had been together – having met up in Mongolia and parting ways in Lao! We covered a lot of ground together – and spent practically 24/7 with each other –
with the exception of my time teaching English – for a solid 4 months. That said, we certainly had our challenges – but we learned a lot about each other – and ourselves – and we did have a good time. Needless to say, I really miss his company and companionship.
Luckily, I have been able to meet up with a friend here in Hanoi. Dave used to live in Flagstaff – and has been living here for the past 3 years teaching English. It has been really nice to see a semi-familiar face and he has taken time to act as a personal tour guide and take me around the city on his motorbike. He introduced me to a small segment of the ex-pat community here in Hanoi a few nights ago – what an interesting cast of characters... I was staying at Dave’s place as well, which certainly helped to save some money! Today is Sunday afternoon, and I just returned from having a nice traditional Vietnamese lunch with Dave and his girlfriend, Ha.
In Hanoi, I have visited such interesting sites such as Temple of Literature (dedicated to Confucius); another temple, which is the center
of Buddhism here in Hanoi; another temple dedicated to the guy who defeated the Mongols (of course this was interesting for me); the Citadel; a war museum; and Ha Loa prison, which was constructed by the French to imprison Vietnamese – and then later used by Vietnamese to imprison American soldiers. John McCain, previous Governor of AZ and presidential candidate (glad he didn’t win) was held there for 5 years– also went by the lake here in Hanoi (lots of lakes in the city – in addition to temples) where McCain’s plane crashed and he was pulled out by Vietnamese. Interesting.
First thing I did when I arrived here was head to the Indian Embassy. That process was super simple – and they now have my passport and I pick up my visa on Wednesday. I have just booked a flight to fly from Hanoi to Goa, India on Oct. 12 – the exact date that my visa here in Vietnam expires. I will be visiting Halong Bay next week for a 3 day excursion. Halong Bay is supposed to be absolutely amazing.
Wed. Oct. 5 – Picked up visa and passport this morning – good to go
to India! The other day, visited Perfume Pagoda a couple of hours outside of Hanoi. Quite a stunning pagoda/temple inside of a monstrous rock/cave. It’s a very sacred spot for Buddhists here – and I can understand why after visiting. The hike up the mountain to get there was nice – and a bus and a small boat before that to get to the site.
Oct. 11 – Today is my last day in Hanoi. I will do last minute errands before I fly to India tomorrow… Halong Bay was incredibly beautiful – the cloudy, misty, and on/off rainy weather brought about a true mysticism to the place. It was a good excursion that included a bit of kayaking, hiking, and bike riding – good people as well. I will hopefully get some pictures up to show folks.
I really do love Southeast Asia. I’ve met plenty of people who are here teaching English and these opportunities seem to abound. It’s hard to not give it some consideration. But – for right now, I am happy to be a traveler passing through – might be something to think about in a couple of years though. I am excited
to check out India – it’s a place that I’ve wanted to visit for years. I think India is the last chapter of my adventure – my visa there expires beginning of February – and then I suppose will be homeward bound.
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