Riding Vietnam Day 195: So Much for Halong Bay

I woke up earlier to the tune of 5:50 a.m. to ready myself and get over to the meeting point ready to be picked up and whisked off to one of the most acclaimed places in Vietnam. The sight of a thorough rainfall wasn’t encouraging that got further compiled by word that my own hostel’s trip had been canceled. After calling the group that I had booked with, I was told the trip was still a go despite the forecast showing nonstop rain the entire day. I went over to their office as the meeting point had been arranged and got my money back. Sure I really wanted to see Halong Bay but with this weather it would have been stuck in the boat with the views blemished by the mist, fog, sweeping rain, and wind. I could have arranged for the next day but that would have cancelled my time slot to pick up my Indian Visa and I had no desire to stay in Vietnam any longer regardless of the reason. As much as it sucks to see so much of the country and miss out on one of the places people rave about, I know that I have seen better, more beautiful, and natural impressive places than that. I can leave Vietnam content with my time knowing that I can’t see it all; I should bask in the glory of the many, many places that I have been so fortunate to experience. With what I could, I saw a heck of a lot just as intended when I set out to do this trip rather than the ‘highlights package’ that removes oneself away from feeling the country as it is. Since I was beyond tired from the lack of sleep, I needed a boost and that came by way of the coffee at the secret shop of Cafe Dinh. I toyed with the idea of taking a motorbike to the outskirts of the city to make the most of my time but with the relentless supply of rain plowing the city I decided to experience the arts of Hanoi at their Fine Arts museum as well as the water puppet show. First comes first, I made an encore visit to the meat laden bowl of rice restaurant of Xoi Yen and got literally the exact same thing with no regrets. While dining atop the child-size stool and table, I picked the brain of a Brit who works in Hanoi as an English teacher. The possibility of teaching English abroad at some point down the line continues to be tempting considering it is only a one year commitment if not less and the pay is quite high, plus living in a foreign country has its positives as a unique cultural adventure. All of this stands down the line until I finish my university degree but in the meantime I will continue compiling advice and know and see where I may fit in. I toured the nearby main market of Dong Xuan which was interesting as all markers but fell short of the flair of some that supply wriggling snakes and uncomfortably caged fowls. Way on the other side of town, I reached the Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts. Visiting an art museum sounds strange but with more (more) than enough time to kill and the rain drowning any afield aspirations I do what I can to not go mental. The museum had many nice paintings and sculptures of Ho Chi Minh, Buddhas all the way from skeleton skinny to bulging fat, and life in the countryside usually involving the rice fields. It was a worthwhile visit considering the circumstances but I had gotten beaten down to a limited supply of energy that only a nap could reinvigorate before I went to check out the curious that is the Water Puppet Show. After a nap that wasn’t really a nap, I went to the puppet show. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend people watch it but it was a unique experience that I wouldn’t see anywhere else. I will applaud the artists working behind the scenes to maneuver all the puppets in an organized manner that I still couldn’t figure out by the end of the show as if it were some hidden magic trick. Since all the dialogue was in Vietnamese, I had little idea what was going on. Most of the time it was composed of confusing, nonsensical scenes of puppets whirling themselves around for no obvious reason while performing simple, childlike humor, I did appreciate the scenes involving the people working the rice fields and the legend of  Hoan Kiem Lake detailing the story of restored sword by the lake’s giant tortoise. At the end of the show I didn’t what to think really. Still tired and with little desire to go out and do much of anything, I planned on getting a bowl of pho and call it a night. At the famous pho restaurant just down the street from my hostel, I got pulled into a table by their request with an American couple and the American guy’s bromance from Quebec. Once finished with every last drop of the well cooked broth, they asked if I wanted to join them for drinks. Since I had been feeling quite dejected and lonely lately, I went along with and killed my every desire to sleep in that moment. We got drinks at a random bar and to be honest I didn’t feel right. I can’t quite put my finger down on why this is. How can I go from one day being on top of the world as if life and all its glory is at my fingertips and then the next feel as if I am the only person on the outside looking in? I want those good days more than they seem to appear which is why I question my resolve in these moments to continue with the trip as I had envisioned. At the same time, I know too well that I am stubbornly determined to a fault to complete what I set out for in spite the rut I find myself in here and now. The night ended in a cloudy blaze with me hitting the pillow like a rock and nothing stopping me from soundless sleep,

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