Day three in Hanoi was largely spent on a bus to the Halong Bay. A tremendous tourist destination billed as one of the wonders of the world, I hold that would have been a lot better in the Summer. As it was, it was cold and misty – not at all like my trip to Phi Phi about a month prior.
Still, Mikey and I had a good time meeting a bus full of interesting travelers and enjoying the commentary from our young and earnest travel guide “Johnny” (referencing Johnnie Walker) who even sang a couple of Vietnamese songs for us.
Despite the musical interlude, the highlight of the trip was probably the kayak through some caves in the Bay. We also got to see the famous kissing cock islands and had a nice lunch of spring rolls, cold French fries, stir fried squid and vegetables, whole steamed fish, tofu, rice and fruit. The final stop, before another brutal three hour bus ride back to Hanoi were some caves, mostly interesting for running into a mysterious and alluring fellow traveler named Jessie. She was the source of a great deal of late-night rumination.
Upon returning back to civilization, Mikey charted a course back Gia Truyen where we sampled, perhaps for the last time, the impeccable pho described earlier. The rest of the night was mostly about logistics. We made it back to the Royal Palace, booked a hotel in De Nang, got directions from the De Nang train station to the new hotel, and used the last free wifi for a while.
Mikey picked up a pate banh my on the way to the train station, which he swears was one of the best he’s had. Indeed, an elderly woman, well practiced in the art of banh my made it and was quite generous with the pate.
And here we are, on the train. Mikey is snoozing. The older gentleman is yelling into his phone. A younger guy sleeping under Mikey’s bunk is on his iPad. And I’m feeling another nap coming on.