Friday, July 23, 2010

Checking out and last night in Hanoi

So last night was our final night in Hanoi. S&L wanted a final fantastic sidewalk cafe fresh seafood feast and I figured I could always watch them while drinking beer. They have an amazing nightly tradition here that starts at 8:00 pm. Many little sidewalk cafes/markets spring up with TONS of fresh (as in still moving around and wondering where all their friends are) seafood that they bbq or grill right there. bunch of little tables and lights and these little places all over the place. very neat. they sure love eating here in VN!

Boys wanted to stay home and study up on their VN history (aka stay in hotel and watch cartoons and play nintendo) so S&L and I found a place to eat right around corner from hotel. Tables were little tiny and the stools were even tinier. Could barely fit one butt-cheek on the stool...but no problem! I wasn't really planning on eating anything. Sue had her heart set on fresh clams in this amazing tamarind sauce. My conception of jumbo shrimp has changed dramatically. They had fresh (live) jumbo shrimp that were abs bigger than my entire hand. They convinced me to have some...I am always a bit on-and-off when it comes to shrimp...but these were unbelievable. Complete w heads, which Long loves (big delicacy here...yuck). The meat could have passed for lobster as far as I was concerned...definitely best shrimp I've ever eaten. YUM. So the 3 of us had a few beers and had a very nice final dinner in Vietnam.

I taught the boys and Sue and Long how to play Casino and it is now Derek's favorite game. It's all he wants to do any hour of the day. The first words out of his mouth when I see him in the morning are "Uncle Rob, do you want to play casino?" He has gotten very very good and we play the more advanced version where we can build face cards. I also taught them all how to play Cribbage, which Derek also loves. He now walks around w a deck of cards and has gotten very good at shuffling and can even do a bridge/waterfall shuffle.

Derek has one of the biggest personalities I've even seen in a kid. He is awesome - always 120% engaged in whatever he's doing (think I mentioned this before) - when he is mopey there is no kid mopier - very funny - head and shoulders sunk into his chest and his feet barely moving - and few minutes later can't wait to play casino or cribbage hour after hour. And he's also a very good sport and takes losing in stride w no problem - Ethan just the opposite - will be 12 soon and is pretty detached and wants to spend time more alone or internet or nintendo.

I tasted an amazing new fruit which I guess is maybe pretty trendy in the US also - mangosteen - very sweet and lots of flavor and yummy. I also like bamboo shoots when they are cooked properly!

I can't wait to get home..."be it ever so humble"... so I bumped up my flight from SJ and SD and will get into SJ late saturday nite and then fly to SD sunday noon. I cannot even believe the trip is nearly

Also very nice is that Long gave me a 10 out of 10 for my embracing of VN culture and not being the ugly american (at least not too often...I think I only had a few instances of ugly-americanism). Truth is it has been a lot easier than I figured it would be. I was in a good state of mind before the trip where I just wanted to leave all my american nice-ities behind and come to VN w a fresh outlook and it has worked great. And of course amazing planning and babysitting by both sue and long has made the trip even easier.

I suppose the next blog will be an epilogue written while I sit in my SD apt, happy to be home, but missing VN as well...