Last Day In Country

Checked out of the hotel and did some last minute shopping. Going off the grid for lunch. Meeting Emma at Hanoi Taco Bar.

Tacos in Vietnam, it turns out, may have been a bad idea. Experiencing a touch of tourista. Enough said about that.

It was really tough for me to say fair well to Emma. She is truly a remarkable young woman. She seems happy here in Hanoi and appears to have good friends and enjoys the work she is doing. This may not be the life I would choose for myself but I am going on 72 and am from another era. I often say that we raised our children to be capable and independent. Easy to say but the internalizing the reality puts a knot in my stomach worse than the Hanoi taco I ate.

Jim picked up his suit, it looks great on him.

I think Jim is beginning to like to dress well. That would be another characteristic he will have gotten from his grandfather. Dad always dressed well and was never without shined shoes. By the way, it is truly uncanny how much Jim looks like Dad.

We made it to the airport early. There are so few international flights (in USA we are told to get to the airport three hours ahead) that we were not able to check in until a little less than two hours before the flight.

Made it to Korea. Tina saw a gal from Porter’s getting on another flight. There were also some students from Suffield that Jim recognized. That must have been the prep school special.

Twelve hours to Chicago, that says it all.

Layovers in Inchan and Chicago seemed endless. Cab to Grand Central, Metro North to New Haven and Ubered home. Thirty six hours of travel, ugh!

Ninh Binh

Today we did a tour of Nimh Binh. Ninh Binh is geologically like Halong Bay; except the mountains stand on farmland instead of water. A two hour bus ride gets us to the area. Tina booked the tour yesterday evening. This would not have been an issue except for the fact that it is New Year’s Eve, which is big travel holiday, so many of the tours were booked but tour she got us was great.

The tour guide was named “Hi”. This young gal, like Tony in Halong Bay, was from a rural farm village. She lives in Hanoi while working and going to university full time. She is also supporting her two sisters who live with her, another testimony to the industry of the people here.

There was only one other Western couple on the tour. They were from Reims, France. Their limited English and my lack of any French limited the conversation.

First a visit to Hoa Lu, the first capital of Vietnam. The temples are beautiful and the history is, in Tina’s words, almost old testament.

Next we went off on a river tour through some spectacular scenery and also some river caves. The boatmen often paddle using their feet. I cannot imagine doing this for an hour and a half. I also felt much less than chivalrous letting a Vietnamese gal do this for the three of us, so I was compelled to give a nice tip.

We also had a quick bike ride through the town, which seemed to be an odd time filler in the tour.

Then we had a climb to a shrine at the top of a mountain. 500 treacherous steps. Jim is agile enough for it, I am not.

Then back to Hanoi in the middle of New Year’s Eve traffic.

We went directly to dinner. Jim chose to go to “Chicken” street. He had heard of it from Emma. The food was delicious! Guess what we had… chicken. They must use the white meat for Pho because they only had legs thighs and wings here. And chicken feet, Jim ate a foot.

The traffic back to the hotel was spectacular.

Went to bed before midnight. Happy New year to all.

Last Day in Phu Quoc

We are off to the other side of the island today. The hope is that we will not encounter another downpour.

ATM’s are intermittent things here. One will work one day but not the next. I had the guy at the hotel take me to one this morning. There were three in one place. The third one worked on the fourth try. I was getting a little concerned because the restaurant last night didn’t take credit cards due to a power failure earlier. However, it makes me feel like J Paul Getty to pull 1,000,000 out of an ATM machine. Bye the way, there are no coins here.

Opted for a beach on the northwest part of the island at a resort called Gold Coast. We are truly fortunate, the beach is beautiful with white sand and a gentle surf and lined with coconut palms. The mountains of Cambodia can be seen to the northwest.

Emma was weary so she did not join us for dinner. Had pretty much the same fare.

It is easy to see the ugliness here. There is a lot of poverty and squalor. Trash is everywhere. But, there is great beauty as well. The beaches are beautiful the sky is spectacular with cumulus clouds in the distance and the water is clear and blue. The people are friendly happy and hard working.

The wedding next door was still going full blast when we got back to the hotel. Heard that there was a happening regarding the wedding. The music stopped later.

Traveling to Hanoi on another Vietnamese airline. I will be so happy to board a US plane. Boarding a Vietnamese plane is the definition of a cluster. Whats the hurry? the seats are assigned. Have I missed something? Does the first person to reach there seat on each row get a free beer?

Arriving in Hanoi we encountered the coldest weather in ten years. We left 80 degrees in Phu Quoc and landed in 40 degrees in Hanoi.

Jim went for the fitting of his suit when we got back. I think it will really look great on him.

Jim will be able to pick up the suit the day we leave.

Tomorrow we will be taking our last tour. We will go to Nimh Binh.

Tina bought a North Face jacket for the trip, Well, a knockoff like mine. If it lasts the Nimh Binh tour, it will be good. I think it actually looks great.