8,745 MILES: DAY 8 IN HANOI

Friday, July 28, 2017

We started the day early with breakfast at 7:15 – a type of soup with fried pork and cilantro that you dipped fried onion and rice wraps in – before Thu left for work. The place was walking distance from Trang’s house. Many of these small, informal shops for food are on the first floor of people’s houses and sometimes the whole family works there. The older woman who prepared and sold us the food smiled the whole time and asked Trang if I thought Vietnamese people were friendly. She was very welcoming.

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Trang and I headed to a photography studio where a friend of hers, an art student in the United States, does photo shoots as a side project each summer. The studio was on the sixth story and had a lot of windows with a really nice view of the city. I was her makeup artist for the morning and did a full-face glam on her (very fun!), redid her eyes and thinned her eyebrow makeup a few times to match what the photographer wanted and then Trang and another friend of hers took some pictures. They were really professional and fun to watch. I even got to take a few pictures, which was strange and new to me because I’m not used to taking non-smiling-but-still-posed pictures, but it was fun. I was wearing a dark navy dress and the photographer used a deep red background so I think they’ll turn out really nice. In the studio, several different vinyl albums were resting along the windowsill. Darkness and Light stuck out to me, an international Legend. Get it?

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In case you don’t, the musician’s name is John Legend…

We had lunch with her friend: another Hanoi baguette with pate, cilantro, chili paste and green papaya (my personal favorite Vietnamese food so far) and chè, a dessert beverage (mine had coconut strips, lotus seeds and some kind of fruit I didn’t recognize) that is really refreshing.

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Matcha frappe

Trang and I returned to the floral book café for an interview – I had a matcha frappe, which is very big here and not just for vegans. We interviewed a woman in her 30s, married, a banker – in English, so I asked her questions. This was the first interview that didn’t go well. The woman was on her phone the whole time, made it very clear that she didn’t want to be there with us, and answered most of my questions with, “I don’t care about that.” The interview lasted about 10-15 minutes, compared to our others interviews which lasted usually a minimum of 45 minutes, some lasting for an hour and a half. From her answers, she seemed to me like the type of woman who is so focused and successful in her career that she thinks sexism doesn’t exist and other women just have to pull up their bootstraps and push through like she did. It was a little frustrating for Trang and me, but I understand that not every interview will be perfect. At least the matcha frappe was tasty.

I tried chocolate ice cream today and Thu helped me eat some of the carton I got from the food mart a few days ago. It isn’t too sweet, but it helps bring out more of the chocolate taste. I’m a fan. When we eat dinner at home, we usually have boiled vegetables (like spinach or squash), then the juice from the vegetables is used to make a soup, as well as rice, meat (oftentimes pork), and fresh fruit for dessert. You just keep adding food to your small bowl with your chopsticks until the food runs out (being full too soon is not an option). Trang’s mom’s cooking is always tasty and fresh.

So far, we’ve done 10 interviews and have about 10 more to go (if we don’t add on anymore). We are going on vacation to the beach with Trang’s family next weekend, so I’m hoping to get as many transcriptions done as possible before then so we can start writing the script. It’s editing that’s going to take the longest. We decided to make the documentary last between 20-30 minutes, which will be difficult with 20 interviews. But we may not end up using all of them, just depends on the direction the script takes us once we sit down and write it. I’m excited for this.

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