Vietnam 2016 – Trip Report 16


Woke up.

Good start!

It’s always nice to wake up…..

Felt……, well…., good…..ish…..

Which surprised me.

But, then…….

Laying in bed, and my stomach starts gurgling.

“Sounds like a party is going on in your stomach!”, Lisa says, in a slightly upbeat way, that just……

Well, you know, it just…..

It certainly wasn’t a party that I wanted to be a part of……

Last full day. Last opportunity to do the pho over the road.

I just can’t do it. I really, really want to….., but I can’t.

I have to push myself, at the best of times, to eat in the morning. And to push myself to eat something that I wouldn’t normally eat in the morning, feeling the way I do, well, it just makes me feel worse.

I’m gutted. It was something I really wanted to do. It was even on a list that I’d written up.

I’m pissed off.

So, we head next door.

I can’t believe it; the balcony is free again. We must be sharing the hotel with idiots.

Then again, maybe it’s just me….

Once again, the breakfast selection is good. As it always is.

And I have fruit.

I can’t do anything else.

Yep, I’m pissed off.

So, ‘breakfast’ done, we head off.

Where? Nowhere, really.

Just some of that ‘aimless walking, getting lost’, thing.

Although we do have a slight plan. Lisa wants to find stationery street. She likes drawing and arty type stuff, and wants to see what she can get in Hanoi.

Great, more shopping……

So, we walk. And walk. And walk……

Which is still okay, because there’s plenty to look at. And we walk along streets that I don’t think we’ve walked along before.

But we just can’t find stationery street.

We find hardware street, invitation street, cooking utensils and stainless steel and aluminium street, bamboo street, and even door handle street.

Stainless Steel Street?

But no stationery street.

Maybe it’s moved?

Which would probably mean it’s no longer stationary.

Hehehe, see what I did there?

Yeah, sorry…..

Anyway, we give up, for the time being, and head back to the hotel to get some money.

Apparently we still have some things to buy……

Oh well, if I have to go through more of that, then I’m going to make sure we include something that appeals to me, as well.

It’ll also mean ticking off another little thing on my list.

Egg coffee.

We’d had it last time, much to the initial shock of the intrepid explorer, but even she came around when she tried it.

Gee, amazing what can happen, when you at least, try something…..

So, back out the hotel, down to the lake, around to the other side, and up Lo Su, and then left into Nguyen Huu Huan. Which incidentally, is the street that Café Giang is in. Café Giang, being probably the most well known café that sells egg coffee.

But Café Giang, which we’d visited last time, was not our destination today. Instead, we were off to find Café Su, which we’d been told was also very good.

Our egg coffee stop in 2014, but not this time.

Despite having the map at hand, as well as the address, we actually found it very easily.

Hmmm, might be starting to get good at this…..

Probably had more to do with luck, than anything.

So, café found, egg coffees ordered, seats taken outside, plenty of people around to watch; yep, apart from still feeling slightly less than ‘so so’, life was pretty good.

People watching from the footpath.  Love it.

As were the coffees.

Think I prefer a good caphe sua da, but an egg coffee, once in a while, is nice for a change.

When in Hanoi, you really should try egg coffee.

Coffee done, we headed off up towards Long Bien bridge, before turning left and heading back into the Old Quarter.

We end up on Hang Giay street, which is kind of planned, because with the help of Google translate, I find out giay, apparently, means paper.

We could be in luck with our stationery thing.

We’re not. And we give up.

Which I’m actually not at all unhappy about…..

Back down towards the lake, and on our way, we manage to tick off a purchase or two. Some things for the boy and girl; a bag and a shirt or something.

I don’t know, I’ve lost interest…..

Lighter in the wallet, we head back to the hotel to drop them off.

As we walk into the street, Hai is in his usual spot.

Ahhhh!, need to do that photo thing!

I make sure he’s going to be there for a while, and continue on to the hotel.

The thing that I want to show him is a Vietnamese phrase book.

He sold it to me – yes, sold it to me, rather than I bought it from him; yes, there is a difference – 18 months ago.

I’d brought it back for two reasons. One, on the off chance that I got inspired to study some words and phrases, and two, if I could find my book seller, I wanted a to remedy that lost photo opportunity with it.

Seeing as ‘one’ never happened; and in all seriousness, was never going to happen; at least ‘two’ was now a definite.

We headed back up the street and had a bit of a chuckle while we did the photo thing.

My book selling mate.

Finally, that regret, had now been solved!

Feeling pretty happy with life, we went off in search of lunch. Banh mi, once again, being the preferred option.

Steering clear of the pate, we headed up past beer corner. I wanted to see if our banh mi girl from Saturday was still there.

She is! And she’s almost as happy to see us, as we are to see her.

She quickly organises our little stools, and Lisa forces every muscle and joint in her body to help her get down that low. I don’t quite use every one of mine, but still a number of them, all the same.

While we’re sitting there, a little dog, who has obviously been inside for quite some time, comes along and decides to relieve himself just a metre, or so, away.

Not overly interesting, or unusual, in itself, but the amount of time he spent doing it, was.

I’m not sure of the anatomy of a small dog, or a large one for that matter, but judging by the puddle he left, I would say that his bladder would easily be the biggest organ in his body.

It certainly was impressive, and I’m sure I noticed a relieved and contented look on his face once he’d finished.

Another round of eating and people watching done, it was time to head back for a rest and recovery session.

Still surviving, but the fight is becoming really difficult.

On the way back, Lisa spots some bamboo bowls, and decides that she needs to reduce the amount of money I’m carrying.


While she procrastinates over the colour, the size, and the shape, with the shop owner, I check out their range of Buddha’s.

I’d bought a few in Hoi An, the last time we were here, and for some reason, they just appeal to me.

Well, as soon as you pick something up in a souvenir shop, and the shop keeper sees you, you know the sale is all but made.

There’s now very little you can do, to get out of it.

I then make it worse by asking how much.

I’m sure I heard, ‘ka-ching!’, come from somewhere…..

I can’t remember how much she said, but it was a lot. And it was far more than I wanted to pay.

After all, I didn’t really need another one.

And now, I didn’t want to counter offer her, because my offer would have come across as insulting. And I didn’t want to do that.

But she wouldn’t let it go.

“You tell me?”, she says.

I really, really don’t want to. But she insists.

Finally, I come back with something like 100 000 dong. But I do it with a smile and a bit of a laugh.

A nervous sort of laugh.

She’s insulted. Or at least comes across as insulted.

But it doesn’t stop her.

Yep, I’m stuffed.

I’m about to buy a Buddha I don’t really want, and a Buddha I don’t really need.

And I’m going to pay far more for it, than I want to.

And yep, that’s exactly what happens. As it was always going to.

Oh well, at least it was a bit of fun.

And on the positive side, it gave me something to do while Lisa wasted far too much time choosing bloody bamboo bowls.

Seriously, how hard can it be!?

And the recipient of the bowls probably won’t really appreciate it anyway.

I keep telling her, she has a far better mother in law than I do……

Richer, but also poorer, for the experience, we head back to the hotel.

The rest and recovery session?

It don’t work. I feel crap.

After an hour or two, I decide if I’m going to feel like this, then I may as well be outside enjoying this amazing city, rather than laying on the bed staring at the ceiling.

So, bugger it. It’s caphe sua da, time.

We head out again, and end up at the café that had all it’s chairs and tables confiscated by the police, the other day.

The thinking being, that we’ll help them buy some new ones.

Yes, very noble of us.

And our nobility is rewarded. Caphe sua da very good; people watching, as usual, also very good.

In particular, the tourists going past in cyclos.

Yep, that, bored, slightly embarrassed look, is worth keeping an eye out for.

Finally, it gets to that time. That last walk up to beer corner.

On the way back to the hotel to drop Lisa off, I check out the exchange rate at a local tour office.

My app says the rate is around 16 000 Dong to $1AUD.

They offer me 15 000.

“Thank you for your generous offer, but you can go and get…..”, I want to say, but don’t.

Lisa dropped off, I try another agent on the way.

Low 15 000’s.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Tried a third one. Same result.

I’ll hang on to my Aussie dollars, thank you very much!

Thieving…….. money exchange people……

Finally get to beer corner, and I’ve given up on finding my ‘perfect’ bia hoi place.

Yep, plastic cups, once again.

It’s my last night, and there’s no point trying to change things now.

While the whole beer corner thing hadn’t quite lived up to expectations, and memories, it was still more than, ‘just good’.

I still wondered though, whether it had changed, or whether it was I, that had changed.

I’m still not sure, but I do have my suspicions.

Eventually, it was time to bid farewell, and I headed back to do a final balcony session.

Geez, I really, really hate these ‘last’ times…..

On the way back, I passed another agent advertising money exchange on their window.

I kept walking, but then stopped, and doubled back.

One more try.

And this time, 15 800!


In the whole scheme of things, it was only a handful of dollars’ difference. But it was the principle of the matter.

Couple of notes converted to lots of notes, and my wallet is now under more pressure than someone confronting the taxi scrum at HCMC airport for the first time.

But I’m happy!

And now, back on the balcony, I’m even more happy.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve said it before, but geez, I just love it up there.

Unfortunately, the time to do the dinner thing arrives, and once again, we choose to go somewhere that we know.

I just can’t get adventurous; just can’t bring myself to try something different. As much as I would like to…..

So, dinner at our ‘last place’, again.

Kind of seems fitting, anyway.

Interestingly, we meet a couple who had only arrived the night before. Interestingly, because the same thing happened on our last night in 2014, at this very same restaurant. They, back then, had this shocked look on their faces. They were finding that Hanoi was just a bit too much for them.

I gave them some tips, as well as some encouragement, and they seemed very appreciative of that.

This time, the couple sharing our table had a similar look on their faces, to that of our friends from last time.

I struck up a conversation. Or tried to.

They, like quite a few other tourists we’d come across this time, just weren’t interested.

I gave up pretty quickly.

Hopefully they get to spend a few quality minutes with a shoe repair guy, or a fruit selling lady, in the next few days…..

Dinner done, we head back to the hotel for the final time.

Goodbye beer street, goodbye beer corner, goodbye underwear lane.

Well, it’s Underwear Lane to me…

Hate that last walk……

Up the lift for the final time, and onto the bed for the beers and TripAdvisor thing.

We have a very early start tomorrow to get to the airport for our 7.00am flight to HCMC.

The alarm is set for 4.30am.


But the one saving grace, is that we’re meeting up with Stefan again, and Mark from Sydney tomorrow.

And that, is one thing I’ve really been looking forward to.

My big problem, still, is how I’m feeling. I’m not good.

And while I hold out little hope of coming good in the morning, I do have one wish.

And that is to not feel worse than I do, now.

I’ve been getting by, but it’s wearing me down.

Hopefully I’m no worse, tomorrow.




Hard work, long day.  Much harder than it looks.

2 thoughts on “Vietnam 2016 – Trip Report 16

  1. fabulous blog. My husband and I are abandoning our kids and heading to Vietnam for 15 nights in june / july. I CAN’T WAIT!


  2. Hi Melanie,
    It really is a fantastic place. It got under our skin on our first visit, and now we’re hoping to head back again for our third visit later this year. I think it might be an illness. :-) Have a fantastic time! And thanks very much for taking the time to comment.


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