Hard to Say Goodbye
Trip Start Dec 04, 2005
45Trip End Jun 16, 2006
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Our first day back in Hanoi, we went to West Lake to pedalboat on these crazy swanboats (that was totally for you, Faye!). On the way, we stopped at Tran Quan temple. Not the most impressive or exciting temple, but a shady, quiet spot on the way to the lake. In our swan boat, we pedaled toward the middle of the lake where some fishermen vehemently waved us away from where they were fishing (like we were headed there anyway!) and we strove to avoid the many teenagers who were using their hour on the lake for some serious snuggle time
We walked from the lake to the Temple of Literature via Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum. There, we almost got in trouble for walking in the "no admittance" 10 feet in front of the stairs to the mausoleum. Oops. We stopped for lunch at this amazing restaurant, KOTO. The food was good, the smoothies excellent, but the mission of the restaurant is to train underprivileged youth to participate in the food service industry. It's pretty impressive because along with their professional training, they are expected to do philanthropy and are given classes in public health issues, etc. We love getting the chance to support those kinds of places. The Temple of Literature was WAY more crowded this time (we had to go back with our camera!), so we didn't stay for very long.
Instead, we went to look at the Opera House and the Museum of History, although we didn't actually go into either one, but enjoyed their architecture (J: And when Missy says "enjoyed" she means it was fun to look at, not our most favorite architectural sights, and had about enough after 5-10 minutes). And then we shared a Vietnamese coffee before meeting Hung for dinner. With neither one of us being coffee drinkers, the effects of the coffee were pretty clear - luckily, we were both able to fall asleep that night! We went to one of our fav vegetarian restaurant (see, if you're in a city enough times, you can have a fav vegetarian restaurant) where they serve these special fried potato-mushroom balls. That was a horrible description (J: But hilarious, and accurate)
After dinner, the three of us rode Hung's motorcycle to the Sunday market. We walked through, looked at bathing suits (ok, only Hung looked at bathing suits), ate sweets - it was great. Hung is the absolute best. We tried to persuade him to come to India, but he said he's too busy. Damn him! We just love hanging out with him. He's hilarious.
The next morning, our last in Viet Nam, we ran errands crazily all morning. We met Hung (who had Jim and Andy in tow because, at our recommendation, they had decided to do a trip to the mountains with Hung) for some sorbet and giggles. Then, we met Caroline and Elliott for dinner, book discussion and giggles. (J: notice a theme here?) It was great to feel like we had friends with whom we could hang out. You know, make a plan and meet up. That's something we've missed and it was just wonderful to have. Plus, our last meal, with Caroline and Elliott, was absolutely fantastic - rice noodles with this special fish (cha ca) pan seared at our table over a small heating contraption with greens. Excellent. (J: And let's not forget how cute they were when they gave us a "going away/moving on" present
Hung came to the hotel to see us off and we both felt unbelievably sad. The only time we've felt more sad was when Mom left in Bangkok and when we left Di in New Zealand. Those were pretty horrible. But this was pretty bad also (although not even close to you leaving, Mom). We still haven't gotten over it. If you're ever in Viet Nam, contact us and we'll get you in touch with Hung. He's the absolute best ever! (J: Honestly, we cannot thank Vivien enough for giving us his contact information and recommending going into the mountains with him.)
We're already planing how we can get back to Viet Nam. Just a few ideas percolating. And we gleckel on...