Riding Vietnam Day 192: Initiated into Hanoi Chaos

I woke up sick and out of sorts thanks likely to the food I ate last night including the steamed rice pancakes with their devilish vile crispy fried onions. Over some belly soothing banana pancakes (the size of a U.S. dollar coin when compared to the American dirty spoon flapjacks), I heard tales from a Belgian about his exploration of Son Doong Cave, the world’s largest and most expensive cave at $3000 USD, which only further brought me to regret for not treating myself to the midrange caves that explored deeper into some of the most famous cave systems in the world. As much as I am on a budget, I can’t get carried away with it and let it hold me back from experiencing the rare worthwhile moments. From there, I got a fresh wash of the bike and then went in search of backpackers willing to take my motorbike off my hands at a fair price to avoid basement low figures mechanics and dealers would offer (including the embarrassingly low $110 I got quoted from a nearby shop). Typically backpackers throw advertisements online and attach flyers onto all the hostel’s lobby walls which I planned to do despite the discouraging sight of an overcrowded, disordered crumple of said flyers on the walls. By chance, a fellow backpacker pointed me down the narrow backpacker street in which teetered on my bike in the direction of two other backpackers he said were looking to buy bikes. Working my way into the conversation of another guy pitching the two on his bike, I got them to test the bike and gained some interest while exchanging contact information in my own selfish hopes that I could get rid of my motorbike. The rest of the day I explored the nearby Hoan Kiem Lake with its overrated turtle temple and the narrow chaotic streets that are called ‘Hang’ for street with the added label of what used to be sold on the street in Vietnamese (obviously) such as Hang Ga which would be Chicken Street. I tried a Hanoi inspired dish called Nam Bo from an acclaimed hole in the wall restaurant that had those same crisped onion bits mixed in. Again I felt queasy. Whenever I pass the steamed rice pancake shop near the hostel to get water, I smell the waft of the onions infect my nostrils. It’s to the point that I would walk the long way around just to avoid experiencing that gagging sensation. Whenever the smell or thought of it pops into my head I shiver and almost throw up into my mouth. However, when the thought of a PB&J sandwich comes to mind at least I can believe in a better tomorrow. Before closing out the night to get an early start for tomorrow since I planned on getting to the Indian embassy before the doors even opened in case a long queue would be waiting, I wrapped up all the loose ends to my visa application so that I was fully prepared to get the process working without any delay or rejection.

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