Monday 1st September was a busy day for learning the Vietnamese language in Hanoi. Before breakfast I did my homework, logged in to a new app for learning words and phrases (which the teacher, Lien, can see my progress on), and recorded myself saying the Vietnamese alphabet. Breakfast was a very healthy bowl of fruit with yoghurt and a mug of earl gray tea at a nearby cafe, Joma.
I had two lessons that afternoon with a gap for a bit more homework and some lunch at a nearby cafe. I had Bun Cha at Friends cafe which was satisfactory but not as good or cheap as the one at D-Arts in Phong Nha.
When I finished at Vietlesson around 6.30pm I got a Grab bike to The Local (again) to watch the Grand Prix. This time I was well prepared for rain with a spare set of clothes and a rain jacket that I didn’t need.
We had a bottle of wine, lots of peanuts and some bar food before a friend finished his lesson and joined us.
Lessons 4 & 5 were on Monday 2nd September with my first one being at 9:30am on Vietnamese Independence Day. After class Lien (my teacher) and I went to Oriberry cafe for a drink with Captain Caveman. He had the great idea to call to a shopping mall to try to find me a swimming costume in M&S, which turned in to a terrible idea. I have never seen a public place so busy, aside from a stadium event.The biggest size was 12 and so I was out of luck, we didn’t even find anywhere to have lunch as it was just rammed so we got a taxi back to town and went to one of my favourite restaurants in Hanoi.
We ate a selection of food at the Fat Pig and it was excellent, as always.
My next lesson was at 5pm and then I arranged to meet Captain Caveman and some friends for a meal at a local BBQ place.
My last two Vietnamese lessons were on Tuesday 3rd September and so we had a great breakfast at Home 38 before I headed off to Vietlesson for 10am.
At lunch time I came back to Himalayan Phoenix to meet Captain Caveman for lunch. We chose Joma as it was close and I had fruit salad with yoghurt followed by a chicken salad. I spent time doing my homework and then left Captain Caveman at a bar while I went for my 5pm lesson (my last one for this year). Captain Caveman and I would be going to different places for a holiday and he was off caving and diving which meant I wouldn’t see him for just over 6 weeks – because of this I was hoping for a nice last evening in Hanoi and possibly a romantic meal. Of course that didn’t happen!
I said goodbye to my teacher and got a Grab bike to The Bottle Shop where I met a very drunk Captain Caveman and an old Phong Nha friend.
We had drinks and everytime I finished one, Captain Caveman still had a full one. We had a laugh but by 9:30pm I was getting a bit tetchy as I still needed to pack as I was leaving Vietnam the next morning.
Eventually, after much faffing about, Captain Caveman and I said our farewells to our friend and headed towards home. As we were walking I mentioned I was disappointed he had not taken me to Cousins (as promised) so we went there at 9:50pm with only 10 minutes until closing. Luckily they still served us starters and mains plus a bottle of nice wine and Captain Caveman was so drunk we had to take the rest of the wine home. While I was packing my stuff he fell asleep fully clothed and I couldn’t wake him up at all.
My original flight from Vietnam to Turkey was with Saudi Air via Jeddah in another 4 days time, however, I didn’t fancy taking it (due to a few reasons) and decided to get a new flight via Istanbul instead. Wednesday 4th September was the new date of the flight which also meant I had my return flight booked back to Vietnam in January 2020. After such a big (and late) dinner the night before we decided against breakfast. Captain Caveman and I went straight to the airport and it was clear he was feeling fragile – he looked extremely peaky too.
After I checked in, my first flight to Moscow with Aeroflot was due to leave just before 11am and so we said our goodbyes. There were no dramas or declarations of feelings as I think Captain Caveman was doing his best to not be sick (again).
In the airport I ordered pho ga and a bottle of water at a small cafe near the gate and it set me back 175,000 vnd which is ridiculous but I was hungry. It was a really good chicken noodle soup actually and I was glad I had it as the Russians are a big fan of wheaty meals and I wasn’t sure when I would next be able to eat.
On the flight I finally got to watch a couple of films that I’d heard good reviews about – Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born (I should have had tissues at the ready for the second film – Jeez). I also watched a documentary on Cappadocia and how it will eventually disappear due to tourists walking round it. It was interesting but I had a trip to visit there coming up in October.
When we landed in Moscow we were 35 minutes early which was very lucky as I only just made the transfer to my flight to Istanbul. One hour is not enough time to catch a connecting flight in Moscow, in my opinion, the airport is extremely busy with numerous shops and difficult to run through.
The next flight ended up being delayed, had no entertainment, or alcohol and so I watched Mindhunter and fell asleep. When I arrived at Istanbul it was just before midnight but we had to sit on the runway for quite a while until we could get off.