Sunday, August 6, 2017
Today is our last day in Ha Long Bay. Trang’s family wanted to get in one last swim before we leave, which I was totally on board with. We swam earlier in the day than usual and so the tide had receded. I swam the length of the area and back that was sectioned off for swimming just to get some exercise in. I haven’t been able to exercise much at all since I got here and going from working out every day to not at all feels weird. I’m eating much healthier, though, so I guess that makes up for it for now.
We had lunch in a restaurant with the word “Wellcome” – misspelled, yes – on the glass doors. It was another place with fresh seafood and I followed Trang’s mom when she went next door to pick our food from the glass tanks filled with water and sea creatures. We had something called Mantis shrimp, which was much bigger than a regular shrimp but looked more like a lobster, just smaller. The food was tasty but sort of hard to peel back the tough crustacean layers to get at the meat inside.
The bus ride back was three hours and hot and stuffy the whole way. When we reached Hanoi, a lot of people stopped the bus driver, grabbed their luggage and just got out of the bus on the side of the highway in hopes of flagging down a taxi. It looked so dangerous. We returned around 5p and I realized that I hadn’t missed all the honking and rooster noises. But it was good to be back in the city.
For dinner, Thu, Trang and I met up with one of their close friends who they refer to as a cousin, Minh, who I had interviewed last week, as well as her boyfriend. We ate at a Japanese pizza restaurant and sat on the second floor, where I could watch over a balcony the cooks preparing the pizza from scratch. Appetizers were caprese salad and some sort of spaghetti noodles and I realized it was the first time I had used a fork since I arrived in Vietnam. The pizza wasn’t as off-the-wall as I expected, just had different toppings than I have tried before. One was a four-cheese pizza with drizzled honey (an unexpected but tasty blend). We also had salmon sashimi pizza, which was really good, as well as a margherita pizza (which I’ve had before) and some other pizza I don’t know the name of. It was really, really nice and really, really delicious. Afterward, we went to a coffee shop across the street and Minh’s boyfriend suggested I try the blended coconut coffee. It was SO good: frozen coconut milk drenched in espresso. There are unsalted sunflower seeds sitting out as a snack at every table in every coffee shop I’ve been to so far. I find this kind of funny.