We’ve arrived in Hanoi. It’s inhumanely hot, humid, and oh god the traffic. The traffic! Scooters, pedestrians, cars, somehow they just weave in and out, traffic lights be damned, all part of an organic but incomprehensible flow. Our role in it is much like a spoon thrown into the blender, probably as upsetting to the motorists as they are terrifying to us.

We’re staying in the Old Quarter, close to many of the touristy places. In a single morning, we manage to zoom through Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ngoc Son Temple, St Joseph’s Cathedral (not open to the public), and the infamous Hoa Lo Prison where John McCain was kept as a POW (really terribly depressing, but so much pro-communist propaganda!). I discover that my friend Caroline and her husband Orian are also in town, and we meet for lunch at the legendary Metropole Hotel. They’ve spent a month biking something like 2800km here, from Urumqi in China! As awful as I feel after our morning walk I really can’t complain anymore…

We’ve also arranged two tours for this trip, both of which are food related: Vietnamese street food and cooking class. We learned how to make pho, papaya salad, spring rolls, and egg coffee... Oh my...

We're spending two days in Halong Bay before returning to Hanoi to see few more places: a stunningly beautiful Temple of Literature, and a couple of temples/mausoleums to complete the trip. Unfortunately our time in Asia has come to and end now and I’ve to take leave of my travel buddy Christine. After a final, sumptuous meal, we part ways… and I’m happy to report that I’m still in one piece!

Comment