I started the day with a run to Long Bien Bridge and back. I had bookmarked the bridge as something to see based on online recommendations, but the bridge was kind of gross. I saw a lot of roadkill, and the river it goes over was really dirty.
I got back and had my usual breakfast: toast and jam.
Next up was Cong Cafe, which is a chain cafe in Hanoi. I got a strange mung bean smoothie thing. I think it’s meant to be made with milk, but I am here to inform that the vegan version is not that good.
I walked to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, another place I marked based on online recommendations. It was ok– nothing spectacular.
Alas, it was also closed. I then went to another vegan restaurant that I found on Google Maps, which I discovered was also closed. On the way, however, I spotted a sign for a vegan restaurant. I walked back to that; it was a tiny hole in the wall, not on Google Maps or online at all.
It’s called Lo Vegan, and it serves vegan Vietnamese food (banh mi, pho, spring rolls, etc). It’s run by one woman who makes the food and serves the food. She also sells cookies, smoothies, homemade tahini, rice crisps, etc.
My vegan pho was AMAZING! It was really healthy and fresh. And her hot sauce is no joke– I was dying with just a dollop. Hallelujah for real spicy hot sauce. I hate the weak stuff.
I decided to check out the surrounding area since I hadn’t explored it yet. It was actually really nice– it felt more local and there were some really cool buildings, alleyways, and ponds around. There were some men fishing in one of the ponds/lakes, which I found a bit odd. I wonder what sort of fish they find there??
I went to this random place called Jen’s Cafe. I ordered a juice and read my book, Kafka On The Shore by Murakami. I got really engrossed and stayed for a while. I also got a coffee, which came on a cool heater thing that had real fire.
I decided that tonight would be the night for new friends. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do another night completely alone. It would have to happen at a different hostel, however, because it wouldn’t happen at my own hostel (Hanoi Centre Hostel). It just isn’t the most social place.
I wasn’t sure if it was weird to go to a different hostel just to socialize, since this was my first time doing something like this. I actually googled it and found some articles about “how to make friends while traveling alone” that validated the fact that it was ok to do so. I felt a bit lame googling something like that, but it gave me peace of mind.
I walked to Flipside Hostel, which I had seen the day before. There had been a bunch of people chatting outside with beers, and I thought it looked fun.
When I approached it, I didn’t see anyone socializing outside like they were the day before. I walked in, headed for the stairs, and suddenly felt a bit of a panic and a lot of fear. I guess this is called social anxiety?
I nearly turned around, but I forced myself to just keep walking. I made my way up to the rooftop bar, crossing my fingers that I would see some friendly people.
I reached the roof and saw some people sitting at a big table. Phew! It wasn’t a total bust. I went to the bar and a friendly guy named Eowin introduced himself to me. It was happy hour– 2 beers for the price of one, woo!
I sat at the big table and introduced myself to the people around me. One girl was Dutch, and the other girl was a Kiwi who teaches English.
I also chatted with Eowin for a bit. It turns out that he lived in Japan for a while (Tokyo and Osaka), and came to Vietnam 6 weeks ago for vacation. He ended up working at the hostel and staying in Hanoi for the entire time. I also met an English guy, plus two girls who live in Taiwan. One of them was Spanish, the other was an American girl from Texas!! She was cute, but I could tell she was feeling a bit like a fish out of water and going through major culture shock.
We had some beers and I eventually got hungry. The veg options at the bar were limited, but they had a falafel burger so I got that. It came with fries, which were seriously addicting. Ugh, why are fries so good.
I went home around 10 pm. I was really happy I forced myself to socialize tonight. I’m starting to realize that maybe I’m not as introverted as I previously thought. Before I embarked on this trip, I thought I would be able to go days without socializing, but I crave conversation and human contact more frequently than I thought I would.