A friend I met 5 years ago (why am I so old?) lives in Switzerland, so I haven’t seen her in a long time! As fate would have it, she has planned a South East Asian backpacking trip that lines up with my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, so obviously we’re meeting up! She’s been stuck in Bangkok for a few days working out her Vietnamese Visa, but is expecting to arrive in Hanoi tomorrow.
I hang out in the city and wait for her, but am having a bit of trouble figuring out what to do with my time here. I don’t want to hit any tourist spots yet, because there’s no sense in seeing them twice and I’m sure she’ll want to see them all too! I plan to wander around the lively streets of the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake like I did yesterday; absorb some more Vietnamese culture. Maybe I’ll find a new spot, who knows where my day will take me!
While walking down the street I meet a guy from Ghana, who’s living in Vietnam on a soccer contract. We hang out around the lake and go for lunch, which he offers to pay for. I usually like being an independent lady and buying my own stuff…but when you’re on a budget of $15/day and you’ve just paid $100 for an entry visa…you do what you gotta do. I’m just used to being around backpackers whom I would never expect to pay for anything of mine because we are all equally 100% poor.
After a long afternoon of walking around Hanoi I feel like just relaxing on my own. Maybe taking a nap? I think months of living at home had turned me into a semi-hermit. I leave my new pal and head back to the hostel where I take a cold shower, which only effectively cools me down for a total of 0.5 seconds, and then have a little nap. It’s a lazy kind of day.
In the evening I hop across the street for some dinner. There’s a restaurant that serves both western and Vietnamese style food, and it’s indoors/air conditioned which means I don’t have to risk getting soaked by any potential rain again. There’s been a giant grey cloud threatening the city all day. I sit alone by the window.
Shortly after I get my $0.50 beer, I am provided with some entertainment when another traveler tries to enter the restaurant but really struggles with opening the sliding entrance doors. He pushes and pulls like 5 times before he sees me pointing to the arrows on the door that signify the side to side sliding motion. He makes it inside, what a champion. He’s eating alone too, so I invite him to join me. He’s from Manchester, UK, and is the spitting image of my friend Tom, who I traveled with in Australia last year. Tom was also from (basically) Manchester. Weird!!! Same same but different. Later, a girl from his hostel walks in and sits with us too. I forgot how stupidly easy it is to meet people here. They’re leaving in an hour for an over night bus to Sapa, so they aren’t in my company for very long.
I go back to my hostel and prepare to have an early night, because I’ll be getting up relatively early to meet Tamara. Instead, I meet an Argentinian dorm-mate of mine, and we go out for a beer. We find another sweet “happy hour” deal and sit on a balcony. I’m 90% sure our waitress is drunk. She’s the nicest thing ever, and seems excited to be practicing her English…but definitely tipsy. She talks to us all night.
When we get back to the hostel, I’m casually settling into my bed when I catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. In the corner of the room, directly across from my bed, there is an absolutely gigantic, hairy, demon spider on the wall.
I will never sleep again. I try to keep my cool but draw everyone else in the room’s attention to it, and then immediately go get someone from front desk. I couldn’t have it disappearing while I stepped out to find rescue.
Our front desk guy comes into our room with a giant broom, climbs up on a bunk bed, and just smashes the beast without remorse. It tries to escape and run away. It’s an epic battle for the history books, but the front desk staff prevails. There’s now a huge curled up spider carcass on the floor. He comes back a little while later with a plastic bag and throws it away. Back to the depths of hell for you, spider beast.
Will I sleep tonight? Will I ever sleep again with a bug net? Prob not. What if he had a big spider family? What if he was just the BABY and his larger, scarier spider parents are going to seek their revenge?