I really didn’t want to wake up for my run this morning.
But I did.
I ran to West Lake, a HUGE lake in Hanoi. There’s a neighborhood called Tay Ho near the lake, which is where a lot of the expats live.
I accidentally ended up running around a smaller lake next to West Lake. I ran by Foodshop 45, a restaurant that had just been recommended to me by someone on Instagram. It’s always so funny and bizarre when things like that happen in life.
One of the breakfast options at my hostel was cornflakes with fruit, which I ordered sans milk. I had bought my own soy milk the day before so I was prepared. I felt a little self-conscious as I cut open my single-serving carton of soy milk and poured it into the bowl. I was “that girl”: that high-maintenance, weird girl who brings her own shit to meals.
I went to Tranquil Cafe, a really nice and chill cafe near my hostel, for a coffee.
For lunch, I went to a TINY place that’s called Vegan Banh Mi. It’s something in between a restaurant and a food stall. It’s in a tiny alley and has no real kitchen. There’s a small room (with chairs and tables meant for children that make you feel like a giant) for sitting, and then an area with a stove/toaster/counter for cooking.
I got the seitan banh mi and spring rolls. Altogether it was 20,000 dong, which is $1. They even gave me a few thousand dong for TET, aka Vietnamese New Year. It’s customary to gift money to friends/family. It felt weird to be given money when I’m the one buying food from them (especially when the meal was already so cheap), but it was really sweet of them.
I went back to the hostel and recorded the intro/outro for the podcast. I did it in the bathroom because it was the only quiet space I could think of. It was pretty funny and also a bit sad. But mostly funny.
I went to Hoan Kiem Lake to read a bit of Murakami before sunset.
I was sitting on a bench, reading peacefully, when a guy came and asked if he could sit next to me.
He was a Vietnamese guy with really limited English abilities. He asked where I’m staying, what my name is, and how old I am.
He kept telling me how he wanted to take me out, but then kept saying how poor he was. I’m not exactly sure about his tactics here– why would you tell a girl you’re trying to take out that you are too poor to take her out?
He then wanted to add me on Facebook. I didn’t want to add him, so I pretended I didn’t have internet. I jotted down his name in my notes and told him I’d add him on Facebook once I had WiFi.
I think he just wanted to practice English, but also hit on me a little bit. It was annoying because I was very obvious about how I just wanted to read. Every time there was a lull in conversation (which was often), I would immediately go back to reading my book. But he wouldn’t get the hint and kept coming up with more questions.
After about 10 minutes of this cycle– he asks a question, I give a short answer, turn back to my book, and he asks another question– I was fed up and firmly told him that I wanted to read my book. Thankfully, he understood and walked away.
I continued to read for another half an hour. I was looking at my phone to research places for dinner when he suddenly appeared again. He offered to show me around Hanoi. I politely declined, and he went home.
I wonder where he was lurking and if he was watching me read the entire time…
I read until I was hungry and then went to Jalus Kitchen for dinner. I got the mushroom and rice hot pot. It was ok– the rice was hard and the soup was nothing memorable.
I went back to the hostel to pack a small bag for trekking in Sapa. I then waited for about 2 hours to get picked up and taken to the bus.
A guy on a scooter came for me. He took me to a bigger road where the bus was leaving from.
It was a sleeper bus, where instead of seats you have beds. It was my first one and I was pretty excited about it. However, everyone was talking SUPER loud for first hour or so. It was about 10 pm, and there were children on the bus, so I don’t know why people were being so lively.
After everyone calmed down, I pretty much slept the rest of the way. I woke up a few times in between, but I got a good amount of rest. We got to Sapa around 4 am.
To be continued!