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Looks Are Deceiving- Part IX

Looks Are Deceiving- Part IX

Trang An Boat tour

In this final part of the series of her upcoming book, Sashi Sherpa describes how they were deceived by the initial look of a group of people. Also find out about her experience of the famous Nihn Bihn Tour.

Don’t believe everything that your eyes see!

At the breakfast table, we had same routine, everyday: Saraiya and I would eat everything we could find in the buffet. You name it, and it would go inside our stomach in seconds. The challenge was for Ashish- poor boy had been eating only bread toast and jam. To compensate for his loss of appetite- we made sure that once a day, we went to Indian restaurant. Indian food here was not bad either- majority of them were either run by the Indians and Pakistani living there.

In one such occasion, we went to one decent looking Indian restaurant after doing lots of research on Google- as we had gone almost to every restaurant we could find, near the nook and corner of our hotel. This one was a bit far, about 30 minutes of walking distance– the door had that typical Indian decoration so we could easily figure out even in the line of many tiny shops of all kind.

We found a place to sit and we started rummaging through the menu card- we would always end up ordering more than we could eat, would blame both hunger and greed for this. Just then, a young Indian man walked in hand in hand with a pretty local girl; he wasn’t bad looking either.

We exchanged a quick glance with each other and we smiled approvingly, giving that silent statement of ‘good-looking couple.’

“Must be Indian living here, married or dating that local girl,” I said in conspiratorial voice so they don’t hear me.

“Hmm..” Both of them acknowledged.

We were still deciding on the menu, when another couple walked in- again Indian man and a local girl.

“Wow, this seems to be a hit restaurant for both local and Indian living here,” I said.

“Seems like.” added Saraiya.

One chatty Indian waiter stood by our side, willing to help us with our confusion.

Ashish was talking to him, when third couple walked in. Let’s say in the exact format: the guy was Indian and the girl was Vietnamese.

When we looked at the other two couples who were already sitting- we noticed similarity or you can say an odd behaviour- they barely spoke, or even if they did, it seemed that the girl either understood very less or nothing at all.

Then it hit us! They were not couples at all. They were something else.

Just then, I caught the waiter who discussing the menu in Hindi with Ashish, looking at me, sizing me up and down, wondering where do I fit between Saraiya and Ashish. I quickly jumped in between and said in Hindi, “Aap ek dal tadka kardo.” (Lentils cooked and tempered with spices and oil).

“Waah, maam aap India sey ho,” (Wow maam, you are from India), waiter was shocked to hear me speaking in Hindi. He seemed pleased too, as for the next few minutes he threw barrage of questions at me, asking me which part of India I am from, what do I do, how long we are here etc. Finally, he took our order and we started eating hungrily, as always. We didn’t dare to see those so called ‘temporary couples’- in order to not embarrass them.

Masculinity redefined

The second last day of our stay in Hanoi had a tour called- Nihn Bihn Tour. Honestly, we did not know what to expect in this tour. We kept it that way, as sometimes, surprise works better for our senses. Let me tell you, this was the best tour we had till date. Saraiya and I were so tired and lazy due our endless galloping in the day as well as the night. We thought of giving this tour a slip, but thankfully- Ashish who scolded us, making us not miss our family back home, we dragged our self out from the bed, only because of his fear. I must say we owe him for this tour; missing this could have been our biggest mistake.

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The main highlight of this tour was Trang An Boat tour- which goes on for about 2 hours, where you will be sailing through jade like water, surrounded by mesmerizing mountains and valleys. If we had pictures from heaven, it probably would look like this, and you will be in awe of how nature works and carves out such beauty.

We also sailed through at least five different nature made caves and they were quite long. I had never seen something like this before. We were literally going inside the big rock like structure from a tiny opening, where we had to bend down at several places in order to avoid hitting your head. But it was big enough to sit comfortably once we were completely inside these caves. We were not talking now- all three of us were just speechless!

Later on, we got to know that Halong Bay is somewhat similar to this. So it was like God giving us something for the opportunity we had missed, as don’t know when we can visit his beautiful country again.

The usual chatter box, Saraiya was also sitting, serene and calm, enjoying every bit of it. We would just be occasionally woken up from our trance like state with the sound of water splashed by the sturdy looking oars, held and used by, equally strong looking woman. Rowing for 2 hours continuously was no joke. There were only women who were sailing the boats here. I had heard from my colleague that Vietnam has matriarchal society, this trip proved it. Seeing these women with ripped and robust arms- masculinity got redefined in my head, as I looked with great admiration at these women boatman.

We ended that night by doing pub hopping- which are in ample numbers in old quarter. Saraiya and I also tried the famous Vietnamese eggnog coffee made with egg yolk. Wasn’t so bad in taste, but thinking that there is a raw egg in it, may make you feel a little uncomfortable, but I guess it is all about developing the habit. Well, we weren’t staying so long to turn into our habit but we were brave enough to at least give it a try.


The day to fly back home had arrived. We had two moods: sad for leaving early but also eager to reach home. After all, travel is not just about visiting and exploring other places, but it is also about coming back to where it all began- because if you do not travel, you won’t know the feeling of coming back home, right!!!

Also Read: Hide and Seek With the Cop in Vietnam !! PART VIII 

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