Today is our last day in Ha Long Bay. We had breakfast with a couple from Norway. Both tall, blond and gorgeous. She hates the water and won’t get near a kayak. We left them and kayaked in a sweet, very clean bay, and though the wind picked up this morning, it was calm and beautiful in the bay.
Back in the boat, we packed up our stuff, then met to make spring rolls. Over assembling our rolls, we got conflicting advice for our free evening in Hanoi. This afternoon, we have the long bus ride back. On the way back we already knew the drill. 1/2 way back, the 30 minute stop for the driver to have a meal. No mention of the fact that we are again herded through the monster shopping barn. It must be standard tourist industry guide instruction. Our guide is too smart to think we don’t get it. This time we were smarter and headed right for the cafe in the back, where we had a perfectly wonderful bowl of pho.
By the time we returned to our hotel in Hanoi, it was pouring. It was so good to see a familiar face at the front desk. Our new friend, Dang, gave us a great room. We ventured out in pouring rain to the ATM which promptly ate my bank card… Then we went to dinner at a place that took credit cards. So we could have eaten on the street for $2.00, but instead went to a fancy restaurant and spent $20.00. Somehow it made me feel better, and dinner was excellent. Years ago, there was a restaurant on South Fairfax called Saigon Flavor. I went there often with my friend, Henri, and we always had minced pork on sugarcane. I saw it on the menu here and it was as good as I remembered. It sucks that I can’t reminisce with him. Dessert was also memorable; it was warm banana in a warm coconut sauce.