“well we made it. and with that said we’ve already encountered/checked off things we knew would occur… we signed up for our 24hour bus ride at $19.00 each. nothing to write home about, but at least it wasn’t the worst. they drove us 7 hours to the border and then we stayed there until it opened up at 6am. once it got light out we could see we had already crossed a major weather barrier: it was foggy and misty and cool… a nice change, but we were still in shorts and t-shirts and flops.. not really prepared. after we got pulled around the border crossing they (like normal), were demanding more money, and then we were left in the rain to walk through ‘no mans land’ (the inbetween laos and vietnam). but we made it back on the bus, passport in hand, soaking wet and cold (see pics).
our first stop was the classic bus owned road side restaurant where everyone gets off, chows down quickly, goes pee and even brushes their teeth (we’ve done this one many times by now). but here we tried our first pho and co. the first is the famous noodle soup, the second is a rice dish… both pretty good, but I know we’ll find better. on the bus there was about 6 of us ‘farungs‘ and the rest locals of vietnam. not too much interaction occurred until the bus started to thin out in vietnam and seating arrangements were rearranged. we finally started our interaction. one guy knew very little english, but enough to get a convo going. he asked us where we were from, but he couldn’t understand us. we proceeded with age questions, travel, etc… then he asked again where we were from so pulled out our trusty map and pointed to the states. that’s when it came, the big long “ooooohhhhh…..” then silence for a few minutes.
we weren’t sure how to take it and have been wondering what it was gonna be like since neither of us experienced the war and were not that affected by it…. he then broke the silence with a smile saying how many many vietnamese were killed in the war. we nodded in agreement, curiously wondering what they were thinking. he continued on and we figured him and jeff are the same age so they went off that for a bit, then he explained how his older brother was sent to the states in 1975 at the age of 9, and has been there ever since. he’s now a doctor in california (area code 714 – he showed us, but we’re not sure where that is…) and he sends home $1000-3000 every christmas since, the way things worked out, he is more successful now whereas the local brother we were talking to barely scrapes up the change. his buddy then explained his father was killed in 1974 in the war, but he was only 1 year old, so he never knew him. the whole conversation was a very interesting experience and we know we’ve got lots more to come. but there was smiles and even laughter so we felt in good company. i do have to say that it’s heart wrenching looking into the eyes of the elders here knowing they DID live and breath through the war and that we have no idea what that was like….
then, we saw it…just what we were hoping to not see – what we were thinking could just be rumors…. fido on a stick…well almost (he was on his way). a lady on the side of the road was prepping her dead ‘fido’ (i just can’t bring myself to say it..) for the next stages in the kitchen…we continued on down the road and noticed quite a lot of dogs chained up on the side of buildings…keep in mind we’re in 3rd world countries here where dogs normally roam free and wild…so this was a dead give away…… now we have a lot more to explore, as this was all on our little bus ride. hanoi is huge, 3 million i think. we’re in the old quarter at a clean decent hotel – for 10 bucks, free internet, and dinner in our room….not too shabby! we got in at dark, so tomorrow we explore around… now we’ve got our box of wine from the bus to finish while chowing down on spring rolls….. peace and love always…”