Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 28 2015

Vietnam 7

The other ships in the harbor where we docked were still lit up when I got up this morning at around 5 a.m. They’d doused their lights by the time I got up on the sundeck to watch the sunrise. One other passenger was there taking shots with his phone. The sunrise was much nicer this morning than yesterday, with an actual sun-shaped sun rising up into the sky rather than just a general lightening of clouds. I stayed on top of the ship as the engines turned on noiselessly and we began to move through the water towards the same place we’d moved the day before. Several other ships followed, and we dropped anchor in the same place, with the same hawkers, and the same bad tai-chi. Today, however, we were taken over to a very large, impressive system of caves called Hang Sung Sot. It felt like something out of the Lord of the Rings, except sprinkled with signs saying STOP and THIS WAY and NO SMOKING and CUT THAT OUT. Bats hung from the roof, swaying, chirping and shitting on the floor. The group moved faster than I could take photos, so I only got a few shots. We were the first group in and damn if we weren’t going to be the first group out! Such is tourism.

caveThen it was back to the ship, a nice big breakfast. By the time I’d showered and packed, the ship was part of an armada of Paradise ships heading back to port. After we docked we were taken to yet another lounge, where we were fed and sung to before embarking on the grueling 3-hour drive back to Hanoi. I say grueling but it was merely a little uncomfortable due to 45-degree heat that the crowded van’s a/c just wasn’t up to dealing with. I felt far more sorry for the people laying boiling asphalt in that weather, covered head-to-toe in clothes for protection.

Back in Hanoi, we were the last of our group to be dropped off at our hotel, the Golden Sun Moment. This was possibly in order to spare us any embarrassment, as everyone else seemed to be staying at really nice joints. Thoughtful, that.

We managed to get a room somewhat unlike the one we booked, which has been a constant theme in Vietnam, and then we headed out to walk around. We went down to the lake and around to the old cathedral as the late afternoon sun lit up the streets. A man in black with a taped-up rangefinder had staked out a nice spot to catch people walking through the light on the other side of the road, but when I approached he scattered. “Just wait until you submit your stuff to HCSP,” I didn’t call after him. “I will be condescendingly arrogant with pop-culture references! Ooh, feel the burn!”

Behind the cathedral several boys were kicking a ball at the rear windows, against a backdrop of the wise men pointing at weeds. When they saw us they kicked the ball at us, but we managed to dodge in time (Chenbl can move surprisingly quickly if he needs to). Later we had dry noodles at a place one of the Americans on the ship had recommended. It wasn’t terribly good. Rather, it was both full of Westerners and really expensive.

I’ll be honest here, so far I really dislike Hanoi. Or at least the Old District. It’s busy and wary and fearful, it feels as if no Vietnamese live here, and the ones who do aren’t happy about the fact. But perhaps I’ll get a better impression tomorrow.

posted by Poagao at 10:09 pm  


  1. Maybe your impressions of Hanoi will improve after you’ve walked around. At the very least, it retains more of a traditional flavor architectural-wise. After you guys left Saigon it started raining. If you guys do another trip to Vietnam, I would like to go to Ninh Bình Province. It’s Vietnam’s Guilin. But we do not want to go during the hot season which is right now. October would be best. Hope you enjoy the rest of the trip. It was really nice having you guys here.

    Comment by Prince Roy — May 29, 2015 @ 7:59 am

  2. Haha, the weather’s fine here (though very hot and muggy, worse than Saigon). We will walk around and see what’s what today. Thanks for having us, we had a great time there thanks to you!

    Comment by Poagao — May 29, 2015 @ 8:41 am

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