A short story before this Hanoi photo diary.
We booked the piso fare to Hanoi (probably half a year before the flight) to divert, entertain, remind a friend that there’s life after a break-up.
You see, she was devastated, totally heartbroken after her first and longtime relationship came to an untimely demise.
LA and I thought it was also a perfect excuse to tick off Halong Bay from our list. A good deed and leisure in one. Surely a win-win.
A series of funny things happened, though.
They got back together about a month before our scheduled flight. Haha! Then her boyfriend booked a trip to join us! hahaha! Aaannnnd then, our friend suddenly won’t be able to come with us due to uncompromisable work obligations! hahahahaha! Talk about turn of events!
After laughing the idea off, we thought we welcome the new experience. We’d get to know another person. And maybe we’ll learn new things about ourselves, as well, with this seemingly odd traveling situation.
Came departure date and after months of prayers for miracles so our friend can join us, an unbelievable stroke of luck did happen. Our friend’s event got postponed, the first ever in her company history! Odds were definitely in our favor.
We ended up traveling WITH the reason the trip was arranged in the first place!
Instead of it being a trip to heal a broken heart, it became a trip to celebrate their renewed appreciation of each other.
All is well that ends well. That’s what old wise men say.
So here’s Hanoi in pictures!
After years of traveling with my Nikon, this was my first trip to use a Canon. Definitely heavier, but I think, my photos improved!
Found a huge place with a local super host on Airbnb! Staying with Lien felt like we visited a family or a friend. She’d cook Vietnamese meals for us, book tours for us, she even sent us off with snacks for the airport like a sister to us! Definitely a local immersion. She’s absolutely someone we wouldn’t forget.
Noi Ba International Airport
Before Alden was the Al of Aldub, he was just that handsome rising star with dimples that we took the flight to Hanoi with–unassuming, chatting like he was just another person onboard. He went with his entourage for an Indie Film Awards Night that trip while we’re set to see Halong Bay in the flesh.
Only in Hanoi
Hoan Kiem Lake
Nuoc Son Temple
Water Puppet Show
Halong Bay Cruising
Banana Boating/Kayaking by the bay
Trekking and Caving in Halong Bay
Beer session with Shirley, our new found friend
In the cruise, you will be grouped in tables of 5. Naturally as we were a couple of couples, the odd one out got to fill us in. Her name is Shirley. She was in an Eat, Pray, Love conquest with herself, traveling Asia as she heals her newly divorced heart.
She’s beautiful and in the facade looks like living the life, having lived in New York and Shanghai. Until a feast and bottles of beer got us all talking about our individual narratives, you again realize, travel is a melting pot of lessons and life experiences.
Before the day ended, we invited her for a good night drink as she was traveling alone. She brought us to this top spot for sight-seeing acrobatic pedestrians crossing and a maze of motorbikes rolling. It was a treat to watch and ever enriching to meet new stories and friends in travel.
A Vietnamese Coffee-Making Demo by Vuong
Tired from shopping, LA and I decided to explore one local cafe, like we always do in new places. He’s a coffee person and a cup of local blend might be a way for him to meet and get to know the place. I just wanted to sit and see culture, texture, interiors, and art. Cafes always give me that.
The Bus Ride Experience
From Lien’s place down the suburbs, we decided to be full-on hardcore travelers and took the public bus to the main city. It was a relatively short walk and a little long wait at the shed.
We can’t understand the bus conductor or anyone for that matter so sign and body languages went to work that day.
Ticket collector came and I assumed was asking the typical questions conductors ask– to where and how many. I said the place that Lien instructed and recalling my cobwebbed memory of my Vietnamese numbers, smilingly recited mop, hay, ba with fingers being released one by one to count 1, 2, 3.
And then reality sank in, I can’t continue to 4. The people in the bus were smiling, totally amused by my failed efforts. To my consolation, I think the collector got the point and it was fun to have made what was a serious bunch in the bus smile for even a few seconds. I hopped off the bus in a cheery glee and I knew, my travelthon spirit has taken over me! :]
You ask me why I love traveling? That is one reason why. I get to do things I would’ve never done in the ordinary.