With one week left on our visa, the question of what to do with the last of our time in Vietnam is looming. Normally, we stay in a country as long as we can, soaking up as much as possible. The thought of leaving early and "wasting" an entire week doesn't appeal to us, but neither do any of the alternatives we've come up with thus far.
We could easily stay in the city and spend a week doing some sight-seeing. But, we're both feeling apathetic about Ho Chi Minh's embalmed body, the Ethnological Museum, the water puppet shows, the bia hoi stands, and everything else.
We've had some really wonderful experiences in this country, from strolling along the beaches of Phu Quoc, to riding in rice paddies, to meandering around the quaint streets of Hội An—but the truth is presenting itself clearly: we're ready to be done with Vietnam.
It would seem motiviation is in short supply, for we also lack the desire to use our time to cycle west into Laos. It's not so much the mountains that daunt us (and there are many), but the far simpler task of mustering the energy to leave our blanketed bed to buy groceries and prepare for a week of remote, mountainous cycling.
With such pessimistic thoughts occupying our minds, it is hard to make any decisions. Early this morning, I carve through the negativity and realize we're looking at this from entirely the wrong perspective. Why are we belaboring all the things we don't want to do? We should be focusing on what we do want.
It turns out the answer to that is pretty simple: We want to get out of this country, and we want to see our friends again. Pete and Natasha are currently in Luang Prabang, getting ready to rent a motorbike for a month-long adventure in Laos. There is nothing we would rather do than join them for some small part of that.
I don't want us to be annoying hangers-on, but I have a feeling they won't mind if we tag along. Hopeful, I send them an email, asking what they think of our idea, laughing at the thought of seeing them yet again after having said goodbye for the "last time" on so many occasions.
The response comes in a matter of minutes:
We would LOVE to do a motorcycle trip with you guys… We can check into the bike situation and get it all figured out before you guys get here… I think we tell you this about every place we come to, but Laos is awesome!!!! …Can't wait to see you guys!!!
We read Natasha's message with a growing happiness, suddenly filled with energy and excited about an adventure with our friends. YAHOO! We're going to Laos!
Update: I just looked at the weather and it is EIGHTY degrees (27° C) Luang Prabang. I find it so hard to believe that a place so close could have such a vastly different climate than the chill of northern Vietnam. I can't wait to see the sun again! But in the meantime, here are a few shots of Hanoi from an evening walk: