I woke up in a new city. A new country. Hello Hanoi, hello Vietnam!
I went down for breakfast. Can you guess what it was?
I’ll give you a minute.
The bread here is good, though. Unlike all the other SE Asian countries I’ve visited so far, where the bread is either way too sweet, way too hard, or way too airy.
AND I MUST TELL YOU ABOUT THE COFFEE.
IT’S AMAZING I DIIIEEDD. So rich & strong, so smooth… I could write a R&B song about it.
Actually, Jeremih was definitely talking about Vietnamese coffee in his artistic masterpiece, “Down On Me.”
Work it like a pro pro pro
Sit and watch it go go go
Do her thing all on the floor
She bounce it fast and shake it slow
So sexual incredible
She beautiful she edible
I got her I won’t let her go
I ain’t seen nothing better yo
Look at how she twerk it
The way she work it
Make me wanna hit it hit it
Heaven when I’m in it in it
If I do not fit, I’m gonna make it
Girl you can take it
Don’t stop get it get it
After so many weeks of instant coffee, coffee made from actual roasted beans tasted REAL GOOD. Happiness in a cup.
I started talking to the guy eating next to me. He was a German guy who was at the end of his trip. He gave me a few recommendations for places to go in Vietnam and I promptly wrote them down in my notes on my phone. (PRO TIP: always write down recommendations!! You may think you will remember, but you will not. WRITE THAT SHIT DOWN PRONTO!)
I set off to put an end to my USB cable quest. It was Vietnamese new year, so a lot of the electronic stores were closed. Great.
I searched for 20 more minutes to no avail. Tired of wandering, I walked into a hotel to ask if they knew anywhere nearby that was open. The receptionist phoned somewhere, I’m assuming a nearby store based on my expert detective skills, and then pointed on a map to a place close by that I could check out.
I walked in the general direction, and 2 minutes later saw a HUGE electronics store. I walked in and asked if they had the cable I was looking for. The lady got a cable for me and I tested it on my laptop (I actually brought it with me this time so I could properly test it), and it worked. I was extremely happy to finally find one, 2 days and a million electronic stores later.
Next on the to-do list was to visit one of the MANY cafes in Hanoi. After a bit of research and internal conflict on where to go, I chose Note Coffee.
I was still across the street when one of their employees started smiling and waving to me. I mean… does it get any cuter???
When I walked in, everyone was smiling and saying hello to me. I ordered a soy milk latte (HOORAY for non-dairy milk!!), and one girl walked me upstairs to show me where I could sit.
I chose the 3rd floor since it was completely empty. I took a BUNCH of pics, taking advantage of the emptiness hehe.
The waitress came up a few minutes after I got my coffee to ask how it was and where I’m from. It was nice; I think they do it to practice their English? And also maybe for customer service. She asked to take my picture, and I felt special… until I realized as more people came in that they do it (ask how they are; take their pic) to EVERYONE. Womp womp.
I was there for a couple hours, just working on the blog. I eventually got hungry so I went to find lunch.
I tried one vegan place (Minh Chay), but it was closed for the new year. I went to Hanoi Social Club instead. It had a few vegan options: I got the tempeh rueben sandwich. It was pretty good, although the best part was the bread. It was some sort of whole wheat sourdough. However, it was a bit small for $5.
After lunch I decided to check out Thong Nhat Park, a big park in the city.
I saw a cafe selling coconuts on the way, so of course I had to walk in and get one. The owner spoke NO English and when I first said coconut he thought I meant Coca Cola and gave me a coke. It was pretty funny. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t usually get western customers.
You had to pay money to get in to the park (I think for the new year), so I just looked at it from the outside and then walked back up toward the hostel.
I stumbled upon a vegan market on the way home and walked in. It had a lot of Korean products. It also sold moon pies, which are definitely NOT vegan, so that was kind of weird. Everything else seemed to be vegan, though.
I left to meet Sandy after dropping my stuff off at the hostel. Sandy is a girl I used to work with in NYC. She quit her job in June and traveled around South America. Now she’s doing Asia. I hadn’t seen her since June, so I was really excited to catch up.
We had about an hour before she had to leave to catch her flight to Thailand. It was really nice to talk to her– we talked about how we’ve been feeling, what we’ve gone through, how to make travel more meaningful. She gave me great advice: create some goals based on things you’ve always wanted to do in NY but couldn’t (e.g. go to yoga retreat, meditation, volunteer), and that may lead to more happiness/fulfillment because you feel like you’re working toward something. So, I should just keep trying new things and see what I like.
Through talking, I also figured out that I want to do one round of just the basic backpacking stuff (sightseeing, staying at hostels, having fun, doing the tourist thing), and once that’s over I’ll go back and go deeper into a certain country’s culture, societal issues, and see what I can do.
We really worked through some things that had been on both of our minds, which was nice. It’s rare that you have someone to talk to in this way while solo traveling, so I really appreciated our time together, however brief.
Our hour was up, she left, and I went back to hostel hoping to meet some people. They give free beer from 6-7 every day, and it was 6:30, so I was expecting to see some sort of socialization. When I got to hostel, however, there was no one. The only people in the common area were the staff, eating dinner. It was pretty disappointing, to say the least.
At this point I was hungry so I went to get dinner at the second Minh Chay location. However, the only things they had on their menu were mushroom stir fry, mushroom/rice clay pot, and sautéed eggplant. I got eggplant and rice. It was interesting– full of flavor and good texture, but it was really oily.
On the way home I bought sour sap from the corner fruit lady, and then ate it at the hostel.
I watched the finale of the Amazing Race and went to bed. I was a little sad that I didn’t meet anyone new today.