Slept on a boat this week in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay! Also went ice skating in the hottest city I’ve ever been.
- They make coffee in two well-known ways here: coconut coffee and egg coffee. Wonder why you have a little extra jolt after egg coffee? It’s typically made with coffee on bottom and a frothy egg yolk mixture on top with honey and a splash of tequila.
- Vietnam formerly a part of French Indochina, a large region under French rule starting in the late 1800s. In addition to the French quarter of Hanoi, there are signs of French influence on the Vietnamese culture. For example, Bánh mì is a typical meal here and it’s a meat and vegetable mixture on a baguette. You also see the influence on the language as so:
- pho mát, phô mai = fromage = cheese
- xa lát = salade = salad
- cà phê = café = coffee
- Culturally accepted to be gay here but “not if it’s within your own family”. In other words, people and parents are ok with it as long as it’s not their own child. Have not really seen any displays in public
- It’s typical that the oldest son lives with the parents all their lives here. The parents raise the son and the son takes care of the parents as they grow older. Also not typical for a daughter to move out of the house until they are married. That being said, our city team leader lives on her own and acknowledges that maybe 50% of her friends’ families are more progressive and those traditions are fading.
- Shuttlecock can be seen being played in all the local parks (and when I say park, I mean a 3 square-foot piece of grass). On the streets, it’s played like a game of hacky sack but instead of a little ball, it’s a feather thing.
- Back to normal week routine: work, meal prep, gym, hang out with Remote Year, trip planning
- Got free lunch at the workspace on Tuesday: sticky rice, corn (the corn here is mad good), and smashed mung beans.
- Watch the Bruins win a fun game 6 and sadly lose in game 7. The games were at 7am my time, pretty weird to wake up, watch with breakfast, then start my day
- Excited and following the Women’s World Cup, too!! Timing not so good on these games, most falling at 11pm and 2am.
- Take time to check in with family. Done a bad job at times of calling and prioritizing face to face time. Thank goodness for technology that makes it easy to stay connected!
- Ice skating at the local mall. Yup, most ironic activity I’ve done all year. The fact that ice exists in a place this hot is a miracle. It was fun, minus that fact that the skates were SO dull and there were kids pushing plastic seals everywhere.
- Work from The Hanoi Social Club, a local cafe, on Friday. Highly recommend, great food, great Wi-Fi
- Ordered food delivery for the first time! The Grab app that allows you to call motorbikes also delivers food! For a chicken, rice, and vegetable dish that I ate over two meals and came right to my door, I paid $4. I mean I would say I’m lazy but I see a lot of Grab drivers sitting around. It’s efficiency.
- You know the Train Street I visited and took pictures on Week 1? Well, ya, it’s a live track. During the day, the track is lined with people’s homes and cafes, about a foot from the track itself. However, a few times a day, a train actually runs through it all. I’m telling you, it’s CRAZY and like kind of dangerous. Here’s how it goes: 5 minutes before the train is scheduled to come, you will hear whistles from the local shop owners. That’s your queue to get up from the table you’re eating at and quickly help move the table and stools towards or in the café. You then pin yourself to a wall somewhere and shortly after, hear the train approaching. Advice? Listen to them when they tell you to move, there’s a small margin for error. After the train goes by, everyone moves the tables back out and it’s like nothing happened. There are scheduled trains around 6am and 7pm on the weekdays. I caught two actually around 7. I really don’t know what the trains are for but man, seems like a liability.
Saturday- HA LONG BAY DAY 1
- Take off early in the morning with almost the entire Parea group for a 3 hour bus ride to Ha Long, Vietnam.
- Ride wasn’t complete without a rest stop that doubled as a pearl museum. It was here that I learned we cultivate pearls. Oysters make pearls naturally, but they’re not perfectly round. To get that shape, the local farmers put small white balls into the oyster that the oyster can create a pearl around. #themoreyouknow
- Arrive to the docks and take a small fishing boat to our Signature Cruise boat for the night. Immediately upon setting sail, I was in a happy place. Getting away from society, no phone service, and oh by the way, in a BEAUTIFUL landscape made up of limestone rocks covered in green
- The meals on board were yummy, all multiple courses, but fancy food that you can eat in two bites. They were super good about dietary restrictions, like overly cautious.
- After lunch, got boated out to the Vung Vieng ﬁshing village. I jumped in a kayak with another remote and we explored this floating town. It’s fascinating to think that in the middle of the bay, there are people that built their lives. The houses were boats, there were floating communal spaces, and even floating dumpsters, all anchored in this little loop around the rocks. Kayaking was 100% the way to go.
- Re-boarded the ship and spent the rest of the day taking in Ha Long Bay, having a few cocktails, and getting to know the group better. For as much time as we spend together, it’s rare you get to have a quality conversation with no distractions.
- Had an AMAZING sunset, complete with pinks and purples.
- First night sleeping on a ship was a little weird, but honestly the water was really calm, and it was kind of peaceful
Sunday- HA LONG BAY DAY 2
- Woke up early to try to catch sunrise, but it was too cloudy
- Participated in the early morning Tai Chi lesson. I have to say, I LOVED it. Again, didn’t hurt that we were on the roof of a boat with a beautiful backdrop.
- Took another small excursion to a little island where we climbed up to the Thien Canh Son cave. It was really small and I don’t love caves but the beach on the island was real nice. So cleverly name ‘Sand Beach’
- Sadly went back to Ha Long city and de-shipped after delicious brunch. I would recommend Signature Cruises, but definitely could’ve done another night.
- Back in Hanoi, grabbed pho with a remote along Train Street before relaxing a bit.
- Ended the week with some fun on Beer street with the group and a pleasant walk home by the lake.
- Make sure you check out more pictures here!
We get 5 weeks in Hanoi (sheds a few tears…), so this was a bonus middle week! I’ve definitely settled in a bit more but we’re in for 95 degrees, feels like 110 here later this week so wish me luck!