Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.
Hanoi and I do not get along.
The last time I was there over sixteen years ago was after a grueling 20+ hour train ride from Na Trang to Hue. The train ride was amazing and exactly how I wanted to see rural Vietnam and it’s the verdant hues of green on green on green. A friend and I had driven from Ho Chi Minh City up to Dalat (which was so cool with all of the tiny smoke-filled coffee shops and men hovered over their steaming cups in hushed conversation probably still trying to plot a revolution) then down to the beaches of Nha Trang where we caught a train to Hue.
The train was supposed to take 19 hours but with the single track we had frequent stops waiting for the on-coming train to pass. I loved the scenery of endless rice paddies nestled up against a backdrop of lush mountains when the train was in motion. The long waits at a standstill, however, got boring really fast. Nineteen hours was already 7 hours too long for my taste then add to that a 5 or 6 hour delay from which we lost our day to spend in Hue. The only thing to do was catch our flight directly to Hanoi. Dirty, tired and achy, I soaked in the tub for an entire day.
Last week I arrived in Hanoi once again in bad shape. A sinus cold had me locked in a headache as soon as the plane started to land and my sinuses couldn’t clear so my ears were plugged and my head boomed for hours and into the night. Then the next evening, I suffered a stomach bug that had me vomiting for half the night and laid out in bed all the next day and needing to be very close to a clean toilet – not the best way to spend a Thanksgiving reunion with friends in a very lively and interesting city.
I guess some places are just not meant to be that trip-of-a-lifetime spectacular. Being sick as a dog while traveling doesn’t help.
At least I had one relatively healthy day to go out and have some fun, a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, a visit to Temple of the Jade Mountain (Đền Ngọc Sơn), and a water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater…
It’s been (kinda) fun Hanoi but I probably won’t be heading your way again soon for maybe another 16 more years!