Hanoi | Day 1 | June 4, 2016
A 24+ hour journey…a long time and also not so long, right? That’s how these Griffins wandered our way to Vietnam. Funny thing happened on the way to Hanoi: It never felt like a day. It felt long, sure. Had sleep deprivation crept in? Of course. Were we jet-lagged? You betcha. Half-starved? NO WAY: The airlines fed us all kinds of great food! Plus, we had adrenaline on our side. It was finally here!
Our first impressions: Vibrant, beautiful, organized chaos, (VERY) hot and humid, striking architecture, endless motorbikes, puppies, tiny plastic chairs, belly shirts on overheated men, sophisticated 20-somethings smoking hookahs, laid back coffee culture, cheerful and welcoming.
And guess how we traveled to the hotel? No, seriously…guess (this is a question we’ll allow you to ponder for a second………).
Was it a motorbike? A taxi? Maybe a tuk-tuk? Nope….we arrived Thang’s family’s navy blue Porshe Cayanne.
Allow us to explain. We are EXTREMELY fortunate to have the friends and family that are in our lives. One couple in particular are Jess and Corey, who introduced us to their friend and former classmate Thang, a native of Hanoi, Vietnam, who Jess and Corey met while they were in a cohort together pursuing their MBAs at Temple University in Philadelphia. Upon learning that we were planning to relocate to Vietnam, they immediately introduced us by email to Thang, who is now living again in Hanoi, working for his family’s business. Thang quickly responded with not only information about Hanoi and his native country, but with the extremely generous offer to pick us up from the airport on the day of our arrival, and to store our excess luggage while we toured the country during our first month before our return to Hanoi in July.
So that’s how we came to be picked up at the airport by a handsome friendly face, and escorted in a glamorous Porsche. So you’re likely thinking…that was quite a remarkable way to begin your time in Vietnam! It certainly was, and yet it kept getting more wonderful still. As it was a few hours before our hotel check-in time, Thang brought us to his family’s home for refreshments and to meet his parents and grandmother. His family was warm and beautiful. They prepared fruit and coffee and welcomed us to their country. All we could offer in return were smiles and a stammering explanation as to why Trump is still in the race. Afterward, during the drive to our hotel in the Old Quarter, Thang narrated the many sights we were soaking in with wide-eyed wonder ( and laughed at our wide eyes all the while…lol). Later that evening after we’d had time to unpack and rest, Thang whisked us off to a fabulous dinner at Quán Ăn Ngon (“Delicious Restaurant”) where he suggested an assortment of traditional dishes—each was more fresh and wonderful than the one before. To cap the night, we had the opportunity to meet Thang’s elegant girlfriend Diem at her sophisticated fashion boutique, which she had just opened in a new location, and where she and Thang had created the stylish window and interior design themselves.
Happily exhausted, and feeling profoundly grateful for the friendships in our lives, we zonked out for a full night’s sleep for the first time in over 50 hours.