I’ll preface this by saying that this is going to be a very brief and uneventful post because it was a very long, but uneventful day. It started off by waking up and taking showers in our bungalow before heading off to breakfast. We both enjoyed our night of sleep but didn’t quite care for the dead lizard that greeted us in the shower this morning. After eating some fried egg and rice with triangles of watermelon and quenching our thirst with tea we then packed up our stuff for our departure from the island.
A number of people loaded up in the small boat we had arrived on and we took off on another 1 hour and 20 minute ride to return to our original junk boats. Today was much much cooler, but we still took advantage of the seats we snatched on the top deck. Lynn survived by borrowing Doug’s sweater to keep warm and periodically wrapped her arms around Doug to give him some warmth back.
Despite the exhaust from a nearby ship the views were still beautiful and we eventually arrived at our transfer location in the middle of the bay. We once again said our goodbyes to our Dutch friends only to learn that they would be returning on the Royal Palace with us so it was too premature, as usual. We boarded and were greeted by the previous night’s passengers. After the transfer was complete the Royal Palace began it’s journey back to port, but on the way we were treated to cooking lessons which consisted of the chef taking various vegetables and, in complete silence, carving them into lilies and roses, followed by our directed clapping. We wouldn’t define it as instruction really, and neither was the second part with the director providing us with rice paper and raw or previously cooked ingredients (pork, cucumber, carrot, etc.) which we were told to roll together and dip in fish sauce. It was delicious but we can’t say we learned much.
When we arrived at port some of the tourists got off and were whisked away to shore to have lunch there. The remainder of us were treated to lunch on the boat which consisted of quite a few fried items including shrimp and corn. We’ve never seen fried corn kernels before which is surprising because America fries everything.
After lunch we were taken ashore and placed in another minivan to head back to the city. Before you ask, we did in fact stop at the same tourist trap where no one bought anything, again. When we arrived in Hanoi, our driver dropped us off one by one with us and the Dutch couple getting off at the same stop. It is here that we finally got to say our last goodbyes and we parted ways. By this time it was 6 p.m. and time for dinner. We had decided earlier in the day that Doug had not had enough pho bo (beef rice noodle soup) so we made our way to the shop we had learned of from our food tour. Doug ordered two bowls and fried bread (used for dipping in the broth) and we sat at an outside table to eat, but not before adding the homemade chili sauce to the bowls.
When we were full we set off on our second mission of the night: to get Doug some fake blue, folding Ray-Ban sunglasses. On our ride into Hanoi we believe we had seen Glasses Street so with the help of Google maps and some wrong turns we made our way there and it was in fact Glasses Street. 30 or so shops of varying quality lined the street ahead of us and we got right to it. Right away Doug was sad to learn that blue, folding Ray-Ban knock-off sunglasses didn’t really exist, but he could find a number of blue ones that struck his fancy. As we progressed down the street from shop to shop the prices would fall from 400,000 dong to the lowest being 250,000 dong. After 20 minutes or so Doug settled on a matte black and blue pair with blue lenses, but before purchasing a final trip to the ATM would need to be done. Lynn had also found a turtle-shell pair that would be good to replace her Target sunglasses that after 2 years of wear where quite scratched up. We collected our money and headed individually to two separate shops.
Lynn’s haggling proceeded like this. The initial price the lady had given her was 130,000 dong:
Lynn: “Will you take 80,000 dong?”
Lady: (giggling) “Only a small discount.”
Lynn: (confused by the lack of number) “Um, OK how about 100,000 dong?”
Lady: (nods her head, giggles, takes the 100,000 dong bill and places the sunglasses in a case and hands it to Lynn)
Doug’s negotiating was a bit different. Before the ATM, the man had said 250,000 dong:
Doug: “How about 150,000?”
We don’t know if that is how haggling with these two shop owners typically goes or if this is because it was closing time for the shops but we were satisfied with our $11.50 USD we had spent.
We took one last stroll around Hoan Kiem lake stopping for two bo bias along the way which involved some more haggling.
Lynn: “How much?”
Lady: (Pulls out 20,000 dong bill)
Lynn: “For one?”
Lady: (Nods head)
Doug: “How about for two?”
Lady: (Smiles, nods head)
At this point some heavy rain started so we grabbed our bo bias, opened our umbrellas, and headed back to the hotel for another night of sleep.
Upon arriving at the hotel, we decided it was time to catch up on our blog posts so Doug started looking at it. Lynn simultaneously started looking at AirBnB for places to stay in Australia and was immediately dismayed. It seems as though we were running out of time for reasonable price options. This then led to an unexpected 3 hour scramble with Doug using the Traveling Salesman problem to determine the cheapest order of our flights around the country and Lynn searching for accommodation options while there. At 1 a.m. it was finally time for bed after Doug was able to finalize our flights for the country.
Daily Walking Mileage: 5ish. Again we had a very bumpy ride throwing off our Fitbits.
- Continuous travel is way more work than we expected especially when you are on a budget.
- Uluru in Australia is also a tourist trap. You cannot find lodging options for less than $150 USD without pitching your own tent or staying in a dorm. So, we are staying in a dorm.