The calming memories of thousands of limestone karsts rising from Lan Ha Bay’s blue waters fade away and we find ourselves in a sea of people once again. Hanoi’s old quarter is a thousand years old and buzzes with life as we meander these narrow streets. We spend some time for reflection at a centuries old Taoist temple, before heading off to the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh.
Uncle Ho is not receiving visitors today but we move on to a local Pho shop for lunch, where we sample the famous Vietnamese soup (Pho), as well as the Pork Bun Cha. After lunch we are able to pick up last day essential souvenirs in the shops of the old quarter, such as inflatable dinosaurs, weasel poop coffee, and socialist propaganda posters! We manage to navigate the traffic safely (it’s not as bad as India), and return to our lovely hotel to prepare for our final feast. Madame Hien does not let us down. The French colonial architecture and menu are both impressive. We feast on Banana blossom salad, curried veggies, chicken, duck, and glazed baked bananas. An excellent end to our culinary adventures so far! We have spent the evening remembering our time with the Karuna girls, the children at the Elma school, wandering ancient cities and temples, and even older islands. Tomorrow the group will go two separate ways; six will remain in Asia for the Combo program in Thailand, while fourteen will travel back in time to the US. The journey continues and the memories will remain!