Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Email from Ken from Vietnam

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." Ralph Waldo Emerson

You might remember I told you my nephew Ken is spending the first semester of his graduate year in China. My sister and brother-in-law, who traveled with him there this summer, got an email from Ken about his current side trip to Vietnam.

Of course, they shared it with the family. It's a keeper. (As is he). Enjoy.


We've been having a great time in Vietnam so far. We arrived in Hanoi last night, after yet another mafan China experience. One person was late for the plane, so of course we wait for him for over an hour on the runway only for him not to show up, then are late getting into Nam.

Our poor driver was waiting for so long. He picked us up, brought us back to the hostel. We got two fairly small charm-free rooms, but each has it's own bathroom which is nice.

We went out for a really nice dinner in some hole in the wall. The food here is amazing. Lots of good spices and flavors and the noodles are great. Then we went out to see the lake, which is pretty much the centerpoint of the old district of the city.

There are a few bar streets around there. We met some expats and got the story of what to do in Hanoi and how to plan out the rest of our trip. Today we just walked around the city exploring.

The coffee here is really good (Vietnam is the largest coffee exporter in Asia), so we've been spending a decent amount of time in coffee houses. We went to the Ho Chi Minh museum... nothing special. Then we split up so the girls could go shopping.

Gabe and I first took a rickshaw ride through the city, then hung out with some locals on the street and drank tea and smoked a tobacco water pipe, then went for some sketchy full body massage. All in all a pretty awesome day. (Haha the stupid girls couldn't find any markets they liked and they're still upstairs taking naps. Who the f**k comes to Vietnam to shop?)

Tonight we're going to have dinner, then decide whether we want to go on some booze cruise down the Red River with some of the expats we met last night or stay on land and try out the bar/club scene in the city.

Tomorrow we're leaving the hostel at 7:00am for a full day tour of Halong Bay, complete with caves to swim and kayak in. Our flight down to Saigon/Ho Chi Mihn City leaves 10:00am on Monday, then probably to a beach town. Our original plan was to go to the beach in the middle of the country, but apparently they're currently getting nailed by a typhoon, so we had to make do.

Anyway everything here is excellent. All your "Chinese Kids" are having a great time in Southeast Asia and I'll try to be in touch as the trip progresses (no cell phone here... didn't feel like buying a new sim card for one week).

Hope all is well with you. Talk to you soon.
Oh, to be 22 with all the possibilities of life--and the world--open and waiting for you.

Update Email from Ken, 10.4.06:
So the weather hasn't been our best friend so far this trip... I heard that the typhoon in this area made international news. That screwed up our trip to Halong Bay when we were in Hanoi, giving us another full day in that city, which was entirely too long. Hanoi had it's charm in that it was something new and fairly underdeveloped compared to what I had expected. The business district consisted of two buildings and we didn't see a single person in a business suit the entire time.

Sorry this is gonna have to be continued later we're leaving for the beach right now. Hope the weather is good and love you guys!



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