Lost In Hanoi Imagine you are in a foreign Jungle with your siblings and only a map. Chances are, how you are feeling is what I felt when I went on a vacation with my family and found out that I was lost with my two brothers. It was the first day and we were in Hanoi, Vietnam in the summer of 2013. What was supposed to be a normal vacation turned into an unforgettable one. The day started with my mom and dad waking my two brothers and me up for breakfast at 7:AMA.
It was raining outside; therefore we decided to take a taxi to go eat breakfast at a well-known soy restaurant. One word to describe this “restaurant” that we went to is ghetto. It wasn’t the same as the ghetto we know of with guns and graffiti everywhere, it was the ghetto where it seemed really poor and was disgustingly dirty. The “tables” were 3 feet tall little metal, rectangular stands with brown spots everywhere showing they hadn’t been wiped down in a few days. The “seats” were Just smaller, plastic, square versions of the table.
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These seats and tables were lined outside of the restaurant and partly on the busy street while the inside consisted of the so-called kitchen and home of the owners. The kitchen-home had no ours, no stoves, and no ovens, which is different than American restaurants. The restaurant, similar to most restaurants in Vietnam, had 1-2 portable stoves, a microwave, some pots and pans, and lots of flies. Even with the few supplies and many flies that they had, the food was still decent. However, you could tell that the dishes were cleaned less than the houses in the show “Hoarders: Buried Alive”.
After finishing breakfast at 8:AMA, we decided to walk around to see if there was anything worth buying. For about 2 hours, we roamed the streets of Hanoi finding authentic versions and fakes of almost everything. One thing that caught my eye was a street full of plaques that you put on top of people’s graves to show who was buried where. However, the thing that caught my dad’s eye was a shop that sold handmade jade Jewelry. All shops in Vietnam look the same, 20 feet across and stretch around 50 feet front to back. There is additionally an upstairs that the family uses as a home.
This shop sold Jade Jewelry, statues, and the mineral itself, and furthermore the bands to put the Jewelry on. What my dad wanted from the shop was a Jade cross, simple in shape and elegant in design. One thing about Vietnam is everything can be regained for, even dinner prices. The Jade cross cost about 200,000 dong, which is approximately 10 bucks. However, my dad did not want to pay that much, however the man wouldn’t take anything lower. The man tried to bargain for the original price since it was “hand-made” and “real”, except my dad is a Jeweler and could tell it was not hand-made.
I guess my dad really wanted the Jade cross therefore he kept bargaining, and bargaining, and bargaining. This went on for about 20 minutes, however 20 minutes after 2 hours of walking was way too long. My brothers asked if although my parents stayed back to try and buy the cross. We started walking without our parents at around 1 1 :Moa; we returned to the hotel at 11 :AMA. Since we took a taxi to the restaurant and it had been 2 hours of walking, we didn’t really know where to go to return to the hotel. My older brother’s idea was to Just walk straight and take a left.
Since we didn’t have any other ideas, that’s what we did, except it turned out that it wasn’t right. Than my oldest brother tried by saying that we should go down to the next street and take a left and go down for 2 more blocks and we should be there. This went on for about 10 minutes before my brothers finally admitted that we were lost. Not only had we forgotten how to return to the hotel, we forgot where we had come from. None of us spoke fluent Vietnamese, no one had any money, and we didn’t know where we were.
For 30 minutes, with our broken Vietnamese and a business card with the address of the hotel, we tried to ask people how to walk back, however even with directions we found ourselves lost over and over again, since we didn’t know the streets. After all hope had been lost, we decided to try and call our parents even though none of us had international data. As we checked our pockets, I felt paper and decided to take it out. Turns out it was a map, in all Vietnamese. What I had thought was going to save our lives decided to mock us.
I subsequently remembered the business card and asked for it from my brother, they still didn’t know I had a map and were confused. Once they saw the map, they decided to help me to find where our hotel was located which turned out to be a couple blocks away from where we were. With the coordinates down, my older brother decided to be the guide with the map, except that turned out to be a horrible idea because we became lost again. Therefore my oldest brother took the map and finally led us back to the hotel and our parents were in the lobby waiting for us.
Turned out, our parents decided not to buy the cross since the man wouldn’t sell it for any less. Furthermore, they seemed to have forgotten that there were taxis that could have taken us back instead of us being forced to walk. In all, it was an enjoyable bonding moment for my brothers and me. Plus, we were able to tour a small portion of the city without our parents, allowing us to think on our own. Being lost in a mall isn’t anything big or exciting, being lost in a foreign country is surprisingly entertaining and I wouldn’t mind doing it again as long as I had a map and knew the address of my hotel.