Tuesday, March 8th, 2016
We started our morning walking across the bridge over the Perfume River towards the Citadel. We passed through the Noon Gate and decided to circle the Palace and Forbidden Purple City.
Wherever we went, the Vietnamese were very admirable of Trevor’s beard. On several occasions on the daily, he’d be stopped by locals. They’d point at him, smiling while stroking their chins and give an, “Ohhhhh!” or “Ahhhhh!” exclaiming their appreciation.
We had worked up an appetite, so we stopped at a restaurant with an indecipherable name and ordered Bo Pho (beef noodle soup). The place had an incredibly friendly owner who was busy multitasking, caring for the guests as well as her elderly parents who sat nearby reading the newspaper.
Next we walked along the Perfume River while watching the Dragon Boats. One of the boaters tried waving us down for a ride. Shortly after, another actually pulled up to the river bank to coax us into their boat. It was very hot out, but one of our favorite ways of exploring a new city is by foot, so although it was tempting, we declined. The boater even dropped her price down to $1, but we just wanted to walk. She would drive away as quickly as she appeared.
The walk to Thien Mu Pagoda was much longer than expected, but we hydrated and wandered the premises.
The very same lady who drove up to the river bank and offered us a $1 ride insisted on selling at her original price of $5. We tried to remind her of the deal she gave us earlier, but she didn’t seem to recognize us. We decided we’d take a ride only if we could bargain it down to $3, otherwise we were walking back. She wouldn’t budge.
We took a different way back to the hotel along the train track over the river.
Our walk was pretty fulfilling, and I was enjoying the scenery of the park, and all the statues and happy people walking through it until I saw something I could not unsee. Two girls were giggling and taking selfies, which wasn’t the disturbing part. Nearby, hiding behind a tree watching them, was a man. And he was… well, tugging on his pecker! He even turned around, looked at us dead in the face, and continued his business. I was feeling a mix of emotions from grossed out and nauseated, to absolutely perplexed! This guy gave no fucks! And I guess was getting no fucks either, because why else in the hell would you think that that was okay?
I tried to erase that image from my mind as we returned to our hotel, and tried to get tickets to Halong Bay. The lady at the front desk informed us that we would have to travel to Hanoi first, then set up a tour from there. We could get to Hanoi by bus or train. We decided to go with the later, since we were getting sick and tired of sleeper buses. Note: if you’re not “Asian sized” like myself, you’re likely going to be very uncomfortable traveling on sleeper buses. Trevor hated them. After grabbing more pizza and beer from “Allez Boo’s,” we started making our way to the train station.
We were unhappy to hear the astronomical and incredibly inflated “Tourist Price” given to us by the giggling staff who were likely just planning to pocket the money anyway. Buying a train ticket also required our passports, which were currently being held by the hotel staff. Trevor was displeased that this meant yet another sleeper bus, but the prices spoke for themselves. We booked the bus and another night in the hotel, then spent the remainder of the time indoors. Being out in the sun all day had finally caught up to me.
Jump Back to Part 12: Deuce Miming, An Audience & Selfies
Jump Ahead to Part 14: Sanctuary, Shattered Glass & Spelunking
Start from the Beginning at Part 1: Busing Across the Border to Ho Chi Minh City