Return to Hanoi

By Nate

      After we got back, partying was the last thing any of us wanted to do. We’d booked a night in the backpacker hostel dorm but Jordan and I couldn’t bring ourselves to check in. The check-in/bar and lounge area was already bumping techno and filled with shirtless bros. Since we hadn’t paid anything for the reservation and they only accepted cash last time we stayed there, we felt comfortable getting the hell out of there. I went and found us a room above a massage parlor. When I came back with 4 smelly zombies, the owner wasn’t too thrilled. An extra 10 bucks settled him down enough to let us stay. That was one of the best showers I’ve ever taken… ever. We saddled up just long enough to find some dinner a half block away then collectively hobbled back to the hotel. McKayla was the only one of us who didn’t look like part of the cast from The Walking Dead, moaning with heavy limps.  

      The owner at our hotel clearly didn’t want us there anymore so the next morning after some coffee and smoothies, we went and found ourselves luxury accommodations at the Golden Palace Hotel a few blocks away. After getting settled, we decided to do some touristy stuff around Hanoi.

      Each of us came back with a few scrapes and bruises but Dylan took the brunt of it. Both the guys had a pretty good limp but it seems like Dylan could have gotten himself an infection while Jordan was missing a good chunk of his big toe, both from coral cuts.

      Taxis were our mode of transportation for the day, didn’t want to force the wounded to walk any more than was necessary. Our fist stop was the War History Museum. It seems as though Vietnam has been at war through most of its history, mostly with China. They had some really nice exhibits set up throughout three different buildings. On the outside, large weaponry used as far back as canons were fired up until the latest pictured planes and tanks of the Vietnamese war. In the middle of the grounds, there was a multi-tiered national flag monument. It resembled a a small stone prison but was instead a giant flag pole. McKayla and Jordan went for some needed coffee halfway into the museum while Dylan and I nerded out. The booby trap exhibit was especially interesting and horrifying. 


      We made it back to the hotel and gave ourselves an hour to relax. McKayla and I have been wanting to ride a bicycle tuk-tuk hybrid since arriving in southeast Asia but we thought it would be something fun to do with Dylan and Jordan so we’d been exercising self-restraint until now. It also was a fun thing to do with the two hop-a-longs so they wouldn’t have to walk. We told the girls at the front desk we wanted to take the bike tour and within 30 seconds she was out on the street yelling and bartering loudly on our behalf. Sure enough, she said they’d be back in an hour and told us not to pay more than 100,000 dong per cart, no tip. She was very adamant about that, “they’ll always try to take more money. 100k only, no more.” 

     While the boys took a nap, McKayla and I cracked a bottle of wine and played a round of cribbage, we were way too excited to sleep. Excited may not have been the right word; I cant speak for McKayla but I was slightly terrified. I’ve already talked endlessly about traffic (if you missed it, you can read about it here and here) now imagine that, in a big city in the old district moving just slightly faster than walking speed. Oh, and you have zero control. As worked up as I was, I only feared for my life twice in the hour long tour – not bad. They took us around a lake and weaved us through a good portion of the old district. I think it’s the closest I’ll ever feel to royalty. “Make way, ‘cling cling’, make way” as the other tourists smile and wave. 


      We’d stayed next to the Pat hot pot and grill and it seemed like a good place to enjoy some family style dining. They brought out a little grill and set it on our table along with a variety of seasoned raw meat. After a slow start, they realized we had no idea what we were doing, took mercy on us and got our grill all set up. The food was decent enough but the real experience was the rice wine. Or first attempt to order a small bottle resulted in a bowl of steamed rice being delivered. The second time we got a little more animated and pointed to the shelf. This time she came back with a bottle and four small glasses. The stuff was pretty strong but had a decent flavor. I stood to use the bathroom after the first round and still had a cough from a recent cold. The cough and sudden trip to the bathroom must have given the wrong idea to the owner; when I got back to my seat, she’d brought ice tea for the whole table and pointed at the bathroom. I’m sure she thought I was a lush when I included myself in round 2 but at least we got some tea out of the deal. After getting a photo with Pat and the kids we proceeded to pub crawl our way back to the hotel. (Pat is their dad’s name).


Our final stop was just across the street from our hotel where we’d eaten lunch earlier that day. This time we decided to get the most unique drunken munchies I’ve ever had. Since the locusts weren’t in season, we went with a plate of crickets. One by one, we got a picture of each person’s reaction to the first crunch. Honestly, they weren’t that bad, you just had to pretend they weren’t looking at you.

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