I feel like a zombie this morning, bus-lagged and altogether weary. I've been drained by Vietnam's non-stop barrage of stimuli, and now find myself overwhelmed by the prospect of exploring her sprawling capital. We've just ridden eight hours to reach this destination, and already we wish we could escape.
The fault lies not in the city, but ourselves—for we can hardly be bothered to leave the confines of our hotel room, much less seek out some form of entertainment. This newfound and crippling agoraphobia is rooted in a single unquestionable truth: to set foot outside is to be subsumed by a mass of noise and humanity.
Overcome with apathy, I want to hide under the covers, embracing the peace of inactivity, waiting until by some magic, a decision about what to do next is made for me.
By late afternoon, we have wrestled a tenuously positive perspective from the depths of our exhaustion. Considering how best to use our fragile motivation, we try to snap ourselves out of complacency with numerous enthusiastic statements: "We should do something! We should see something! We should take pictures and capture it all!"
…but, our play at excitement is a farce which lasts roughly as long as it takes for the words to roll off our tongues. Nevertheless, we haul ourselves out of the hotel and into the city for a bite to eat, and one last halfhearted attempt at extending our visas.
Trudging around outside, dodging scooters and touts and food carts as we shuffle from one travel agency to the next, we learn that extending our visas a second time will be difficult if not impossible. Most say it can't be done, and the few with faith it can want $90 per person.
Spending so much money for another month of travel in this country just isn't worth it to us. The rugged northern highlands, with their colorful hilltribes, and the otherworldly phosphorescent waters of Halong Bay will just have to wait for another adventure.