After my first day of sight seeing around hanoi i parked my butt on one of the kid-sized plastic stools outside every cafe and ordered a beer. I met the coolest couple from Scotland who left home to travel the world for 6 months, two years ago. A local girl about my age overheard us chatting, asked if i was American, and then asked if i wanted to come with her the next day to talk English to the kids she teaches.
I know, i know: “never follow a stranger to a second location”, but Nhung seemed really genuine (and i have some pretty good intuition) so i decided to roll with it, and I’m so glad i did.
The next day she had a car pick me up at my hotel and take me to the outskirts of town where her class of 50 (!) kids was having an English lesson/feild trip to the arcade and the movies. The kids were climbing all over me and so excited to practice their English and they were really good! Way better than my vietnamese! Aside from exposure to a native English speaker, at the end of the day the kids were split into teams and given a listening exercize: listen to me talk about myself, my age, where im from, and how to spell my name, and which ever team wrote it down most accurately won. (I tried to explain that not even English speakers can spell “feingersh”, but whatever.)
So instead of getting robbed or scammed (like everyone warned me) i made a new friend, was treated to the arcade, movies, lunch, and a birthday gift, and had an experience that no travel agent could possibly have arranged. She’s invited me to come have dinner with her family when i get back from sapa/halong bay.
Right now I’m on my way to sapa, sharing a sleeper train car with one local man and two super friendly sisters my age from Amsterdam. I haven’t met any other American tourists but it seems to be that way everywhere i go. Come on Americans, where’s your sense of adventure?!
In one hour, I’ll turn 28 years old. In 7 hours, the train will pull into Sapa, the place I’m most excited about visiting on this trip.
It’s shaping up to be a great birthday 🙂
I’ll send this y’alls way as soon as i get to some wifi.
Time to sleep! The train is old and slow but it’s pretty comfy, AC and a nice pillow and comforter and the white noise of the man below me snoring.
Ps: i had a conversation in Spanish today with a couple from Spain who immediately called me out for sounding “mexican”, and i felt very proud of that. Viva mexico!