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I think it's time for another adventure

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A snapshot in numbers: 12 hours from Chicago to Tokyo, Japan; 5 hours from Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh City; 2 hours from HCM to Hanoi; ~9 hours of waiting and finally the trip has begun!

This morning's adventure in Hanoi started with walks around the Hoan Kiem lake. Locals wake up super early. We thought we had an early start of the day at 7am, but when we arrived at the lake there were many people already up and about relaxing on the benches, doing morning stretches, and even...salsa dancing. Yup, Vietnamese music was blasting from a boombox and people young and old had gathered around to dance or watch the 'master' dancers. Aside from the hustle of the city streets with the constant honking, seems like this lake is the calm away from the storm. You can just relax on a bench, eat 10 cent ice cream bars, or take a run around the perimeter.

Streets of Hanoi vary with vendors for rip-off (but legit-looking) The North Face bookbags, clothing, resturants, purses, keepsakes, and other random bits and pieces. There really are no sidewalks, or none that you can actually walk on because it's where mopeds are parked or people are sitting. Expect to weed around mopeds and plastic chairs everywhere you go. Local businesses are likely to try to sell you items for over double it's actual value just because we know no better. You could bargain for almost anything but that's a skill that you either have or need to work on.

Traffic in Vietnam is a whole other culture that you have to get used to or else you are never going to be able to cross the street. Most people ride mopeds in Vietnam and taxis are usually always circulating city areas. You don't usually cross in front of cars and you certainly don't hesitate while walking or else you'll make the driver confused. Someone once told me you could cross the street while closing your eyes because the moped drivers would just go around you.

Street food is delicious. No matter what the hesitations are, it's cheap, quick, and delicious. We had wandered onto a street and was checking out one vendor when the business owner was consistent that we sit at the table and have lunch. It was worth it. For 30,000 dong (about less than $2) we ate bun cha, a beef/pork noodle dish that is similiar to bun thit nuong but included the broth. It was the first time that we've ever had this delicious variation of bun, and perhaps even the last since it's not a common dish served in Vietnamese resturants in America.

Tonight a group is heading to Sapa by train, while the 2nd group heads off to Ha Long Bay tomorrow morning.

Still fighting jet lag. Stay strong.  

 

- Linh Duong