Hello from the outdoor cafe of the Vietnamese Women's Museum. How are you? I am attempting to cool off while waiting for Sus to finish. I walked thru the museum rather quickly, though it is a nice enough museum, it's too hot. Basically, it is too hot everywhere for the likes of someone like me. I'll have to come back in the winter. Mean while, I figured I'd write a blog post about our ride back from Mai Chau to Hanoi we took yesterday.
After getting in some good r&r at the Mai Chau Ecolodge, it was time to head back to the beepbeep's of Hanoi. Mai Chau was meant to recharge our batteries while also seeing some of the scenery expected of Vietnam, and that is mostly what happened. Save for both of us getting a little sick. And actually, Mai Chau was a fine place for sickness, as we could lounge, or stare at the green of rice patties while storms rolled by. Pretty great actually. And as much as we enjoyed our stay, we were both ready to move on and see some more of the north. The original plan was to head to Ha Long Bay, a very popular place to both Vietnamese tourists, and everyone else, but as we went to book a place to stay / activities, we hit a road block: Vietnamese Holiday. Most everything was booked. As the wise Homer would say: D'oh.
Actually, this turned out to not be a big deal at all, and in a way fortunate. Had we booked way ahead we would have wound up in Ha Long Bay at one of its most busy weekends, and it's a place that is already pushed to its limits. So we flopped our plans, and are gonna head to Sapa, a place for hiking, and awesomely enough: Cooler weather. Sweet. But to get to Sapa the easiest way is to come back to Hanoi and take an overnight train. This also gives us another day to explore Hanoi. Which we are doing/did. And did I mention how hot it is? Actually, after the museum, and exploring the French Quarter, we went to the movies. See ya heat, hello AC. Kind of. Also, we have seen two movies now, and we think talking is 100% accepted here. Sus tried to talk, I shushed her. That's not the Kanner way. We sit in aggravated silence. JK, for whatever reason the talking here does not bother me; maybe it's because I can't understand what they are saying. Or maybe 'cause we saw Jungle Book, and Captain America, and I am not too worried about dialogue.
Anyways, this post was supposed to be about the random good luck we had on the ride back from Mai Chau to Hanoi. The Ecolodge has a private van that runs people from Mai Chau to Hanoi for a fair price ($25 USD I think), and it's a 3 hour plus ride. Driving here might have to be a post in itself, but Sus was close to car sickness on the trip back. However, she was able to focus on listening to the two other passengers in the car give us all kinds of tips on Japan, our next destination. Sam, an American living in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), and his wife Quentin (not sure of actual spelling) who is from Hong Kong, have both spent some time in Japan. Sam lived there for two years, and he was a wealth of knowledge. This is kind of my favorite thing, and this dude was keen on telling us as much as he could remember. Some we knew thanks to our own research, and our good friends Keith and Jo who were kind enough to write us a detailed email about their recent trip to Japan, but there was ah-plenty we did not. And this is the Random Acts of Travel. It kind of reassures us that planning every move is not for us. Gotta leave some open to random advice. Randomly Sam had lived in DC for years (guy gets around), even owns a house in Cheverly, MD. He gave us food and drink spots in Tokyo, Ryokan (basically a Japan b&b to understate it) advice for Kyoto (and other areas), and good overall tips for getting around the country. It was awesome, and really helped the chaotic drive dodging trucks, motos, and cattle fly by. Seriously, it was awesome. I joked that I would buy him a couple of Bia Hoi's, the Hanoi street beer that costs 9000 dong, or $.40. "Big spender" he called me. Yup.
Well, that's all for now, time to get dinner. I started this post in Hanoi, but finishing it in Sapa. Today we went for a long-ish hike, and I am hungry. Adios amigos!