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March 28, 2007 - Hanoi, Vietnam

Rite of the Sardine

Dragon Boats

February 21, 2007

So, Vietnam recap. It’s been a month - more than in fact and I’m still writing about it.

Great coffee, nice people, jungle and motorbikes as far as the eye can see. That and plenty of bus rides to whine about.

Our last bus ride from Hoi An through Hue and onto Hanoi was no exception. Check out here if you don’t want to hear a bit more wenching about buses. The bus left Hoi An nice and early, early enough in fact to catch a few of us still grimacing from the hot morning sun and the reminder of the previous evenings Mardi Gras. Judging by the fact that a month has pretty well wiped the memory of the Hoi An - Hue leg from recollection means it can’t have been too bad. We even arrived in Hue with enough time to walk around for a few hours, indulge in a root beer float, Italian pasta hidden beneath a pile of Parmesan cheese and a mediocre glass of red wine.

The city itself wasn’t especially memorable either, but we did spend more time on motorbikes checking out the few local attractions. A quick stop by what’s billed in the guide books as the “Hue Alamo” - an island surrounded by a decently wide moat, unfortunately not wide enough to render bullets ineffective - and a public square beside the river sporting a gigantic Vietnamese flag. By gigantic I mean big enough for the flag pole to need some pretty beefy guy-wires.

Arriving back at the bus station - and relieved to find our bags still there - at around 4 o’clock we climbed onto our final bus ride of the trip. Scott and I found ourself in sole possession of the back bench seat. Brilliant. The bus pulled away and we proceeded to cuddle ourselves into manageable positions, no small feat.

A short hour later we pulled into another bus station and picked up a third body for the 5-seat back. That cut our cuddling options down as we both took the coveted window seat, but things weren’t soooo bad considering we still had two seats apiece.

That was before we picked up another two seat mates in the next town. We spent the next 6 hours sleeping on the windows, the seat in front of us and the hapless fellows next to us. So much for bus manners. We also had the luxury of stopping at the single dirtiest restaurant I have ever seen in my life. After retreating from the bathroom in back submerged in sewage I walked through the kitchen to find rats the size of cats wandering around on the noodles and meat. Canning the idea of eating a midnight snack I walked out to the street to find a sizable crowd of fellow travelers - all Vietnamese - bemoaning what a filthy hole the restaurant was and how they wouldn’t be caught dead eating there. My hunch panned out - too bad we didn’t catch Shannon in time to stop her from sampling the rat-noodles…

We arrived in Hanoi cramped and ready to get off the bus.


I am off this weekend for a rather hastily-planned trip. Hoping to catch Zhongwei and the Tengger Desert as well as Yinchuan and the surrounding sights.

Pictures of sand when I return!

» Link lovin’

That Stings - A searing pain not unlike a white-hot spike driven into me.

English for all of Us - A mother lode of grammaticalicious errors.

Secret Service Takes on for Bush - The Onion blurs the line between reality and, well, what is still reality.

Hot Pluto - One hot joyride.

Missing NYC - I miss my bike, note my neigborhood after the Queensboro Bridge underpass.

NYC Socialites - The blue-bloods.

Drink Coffee - Or else.

the geese are back., maybe you should send some dragon boats home!!

- mom on a Saturday

oh come on, the rat poop adds flavor.

- shannon on a Saturday

@mom - you mean to eat the geese?

@shannon - if you say so, i'd rather get my flavoring from copious amounts of MSG. just think, you have the honor of eating there - and living! although i must say the crowd of vietnamese standing outside looking in horror at the diners kinda clues you in...

- Allister on a Sunday
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