Final Moments in Hanoi

After we arrived in Hanoi again, we went back to our hotel to check back in for our final night in Vietnam. We rested up a bit before heading out to find dinner and some more Bia Hoi.Zach had found out about some place with both food and bia hoi on an expat website so we went there. It was located under the railroad and did have bia hoi, but the food was actually pretty expensive. We originally ordered steamed carp and a goat hot-pot, but when she was kind enough to show us how much it would cost (there were no prices on the menu) we ended up getting one dish to share: stir-fried goat. I won’t lie, I wasn’t crazy about it. It was mostly fat. Zach ate the majority of it, but even he didn’t finish the entire plate. So we finished up our bia hoi (which was 8,000 dong, $0.40) and left in search of another place with some more beer and some cheaper food. We found a great place on a corner and sat down for some pork spring rolls (delightful) and a lot more beer. We stayed there for a couple of hours before deciding to call it quits and head back to the hotel.

Stir-fried goat

Stir-fried goat

Pork spring rolls!

Pork spring rolls!

This morning we took our time and slept a bit longer and then packed up all of our things for our flight before checking out of the hotel at noon. We left our bags there and ventured out into Hanoi for the final time. I wanted to find a bookstore I had read about – Bookworm – so we set off for where it was supposed to be. When we eventually found the right address, it was no longer there. An Aussie couple was also looking for it and just as we were about to give up an older Vietnamese man came up to us and asked if we were looking for books. He communicated in short that the store had moved. He went back into his house and when he emerged he had 2 bookmarks with their new address! It was quite a bit further so we decided to go back around the corner for lunch at a Bun Cha place we had seen. That was the BEST DECISION. It was our first experience with bun cha and, WOW. Definitely my favorite dish of the trip. Oh man. Our combined meal was $3.50. What a deal! And it was so delicious. They just really know how to do pork here – and I LOVE pork.

Bun cha!!!!!

Bun cha!!!!!

Vietnam 591

The Bun Cha of my dreams

The Bun Cha of my dreams

Anyway, after one of the best meals, we decided to find the bookstore. It was a bit of a walk, but we didn’t have much to do so it wasn’t a big deal. We did find it and I even found the book I was looking for, The Sacred Willow. Unfortunately it was much bigger than I thought it would be and more expensive. In the end, I decided not to get it. So we walked back to our little area of the old quarter and are now at a coffee shop enjoying our last glasses of Vietnamese iced coffee.

We are going to catch a minibus to the airport ($2 each) around 7pm and our flight leaves at 10:50pm for Seoul. Tomorrow morning when we arrive at 5am, we will have an 11 hour layover. We haven’t fully decided on whether or not we will leave the airport to explore a bit of Seoul. I think it will depend on how we feel. After we leave Seoul we have a 13 hour flight back to LAX. And eventually our last flight from LA to Austin! My parents are picking us up (and bringing Truman!).

It will be nice to get home and sleep in our own bed, but we have thoroughly enjoyed this trip. Vietnam is an amazing country. It’s beautiful and diverse. The people are friendly and genuinely happy that you are here seeing their country. There are so many more things we would have liked to have seen and done, so we’ll have to save them for our next trip. It will be interesting to see how Vietnam has changed. Will it be cleaner? Will it move toward becoming more Western? Will it keep it’s distinct and intriguing culture? Will more people move away from the country and into the cities?

Hopefully Vietnam will retain its charming character. That’s what keeps bringing more and more tourists here and that is what makes us want to come back.

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Categories: Asia, Vietnam

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