Alone and Starving on my First Day in Hanoi
I left Singapore alone, about to embark on my adventure and surprisingly I felt nothing. I was not excited, nervous, or even skeptical about this solo travel thing. It was just blank. I was just doing the things I needed to do like going to the airport, and then wait for my boarding time.
Every time I feel nothing, that’s the time I’m worried.
As I was thinking why I’m not even bothered at all, my mind was updating me that I should be cautious. It was like my thoughts were jammed inside my brain then everything came to me all at once. Then I first realized I did not pass in any immigration, second- my passport did not have an exit stamp, and third- I entered the wrong door, it was the Singaporean Citizens’ line. I was not sure if I should be happy about all of the information, but then again, I was concerned for a while. I decided to google if it was okay not having an exit stamp in Singapore, then I found the same issue in the internet and it says it was common, I felt relieved.
I was using the internet to kill some waiting time, hopping to my social media accounts, checking some post and even checking my own instagram feed. While waiting, I checked the time then I noticed my boarding time has already passed. I asked the person beside me if he is going to Hanoi and he just paused, and stared at me, like he was trying to understand my question. Then for a moment, he showed me his ticket and again, I felt relieved that we were going to take the same plane.
I got inside the plane and on our way to Hanoi, I just discovered that Hanoi has a different time zone, less than an hour in Philippines. It was just a simple information that I should have known but I didn’t since I did not search or even looked for that specific information.
I was Confused that I got in the wrong Homestay
I landed in Hanoi at almost 5 in the afternoon. Got through the immigration then I contacted the guy who will be my ride going to the Homestay.
As we were on our way to the City, I was trying to talk to the driver, making a conversation so that we may feel both at ease. Two strangers in the car was a little bit awkward when not talking so I was trying to break the ice. However, the driver was not really good in speaking in English and I do understand that, so I stopped talking, to make things not complicated for both of us. I guess awkward is much better than complicated.
Hanoi is pretty big. That was my first impression. Though the city looks like Philippines, it has a different vibe. There were a lot of motorcycles than cars on the road. The thing that fascinated me was the motorbikes carrying big things like a cabinet on the back of the driver and girls driving motorbike with high heels. It was a new sight for me. I was impressed how they did (still do) that.
We arrived at our destination, and as I got in, a girl with a brown skin and beautiful big eyes greeted me. There were also Vietnamese guys in the area smiling at me. Though they welcome me warmly, they looked little bit confused and it was like they were not expecting me. We talked for a while, like the usual, where are you from and what’s your name.
While waiting for the manager and they showed me the place, the classroom, the bed that I’m going to sleep, the other rooms and introduced me to other teachers.
The moment it was done, we went down and the manager, a skinny guy with glasses was already downstairs. He said that I will be in a different homestay because they needed another teacher there. I figured, maybe that’s why they were confused when I arrived.
Of course I did not bother to ask, I just said ‘okay’. It was because I was also confused, but also I was starving. I left Singapore at noon, arrived in Hanoi at 5PM and that time was around 7PM already. I was pretty sure that my face and reaction was very transparent to them because they asked if I already ate. I said not. The manager gave me a bread and then I took a bite then I realized that the bread has molds and it did not smell good at all.
While waiting for my ride. The girl asked me “Are you not going to eat that, I thought you are hungry”
“I am, but the bread has molds, I already took a bite” then I smiled at her. I was starving really to death but obviously I can’t eat the bread. I was trying to ease my hunger with water.
My ride has arrived and they accompanied me to the street. To my surprise, it was a motorbike. I was going alone to the correct Homestay, with a big backpack and will ride a freaking motorbike, again alone, in a place I never been before. I said to myself “great! I think I have no option.”
Alone and Starving on my way to the Correct Homestay
Imagine this, I was starving since my last meal was almost 9 hours ago. I was riding in a motorbike alone and I do not know where we were going. The worst part was, I did not have any internet connection in my phone since I was not able to buy a sim card at the airport and my money was still in dollars. I knew I was fucked up if anything happens to me during that time.
We arrived in a street, the driver and I were waiting for someone who will meet us. I tried to talk to the driver, then again, he can’t speak English at all. Though I did not need any language to know that he was already angrily waiting. He kept on calling someone on the phone, while popping cigarettes at the same time. We waited almost an hour, then he pointed to the chair, asked me to ride on the motorbike again. We went farther to the street, waited for a while then two girls on a motorbike approached us. They had a little conversation with the driver with an unpleasant tone. I was pretty sure that the driver was not happy about the waiting game. I was too, but I was very weak to care.
The two girls were smiling at me and asking me what’s my name. I replied “Roneth” and I smiled back. They asked me again about my name so I figured I need to keep it short for them to remember immediately. So, I said “Ron”.
I hopped to the motorcycle, a girl with a short brown hair was driving. I carried my huge backpack and we went to the narrow street. The other girl with the long black hair walked her way to the homestay.
As we entered the house, there was a blonde boy with a white sleeveless holding a guitar right across the table. Someone shouted “New teacher! New teacher!”. To be honest, I was overwhelmed and there were a couple of girls asking my name.
I did not look like a teacher at all since the students were almost the same age as me. It was like we were classmates learning together.
The manager, which was a skinny fair skinned girl with glasses asked me if I already ate. I said no with a very weak reaction. I actually thought I was dying already. She offered to cook and I waited while talking to others. They were very welcoming and I wish I had enough energy at that time to bond more but I was really hungry and feeble.
The food was already done. It was a meal full of vegetables. They handed me a pair of chopsticks and without hesitation I started eating. While eating, they handed me another meal with soup, and they gave me a ladle. They said they do not have any spoons (and also fork). I did not really care at the moment since all I want was to eat.
They showed me my room, it was located at the top of the house, on the forth floor. They said I had a roommate. As I was preparing myself to sleep this beautiful Latina girl was shocked the moment she turned on the light and saw me lying in the bed. I guess she did not expect me also.
Overall, my first day wasn’t that bad at all. I got confused, scared, and tired, but I was really happy that I arrived in the Homestay safely. Also, I ended my day not alone and definitely not starving.
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