Hi Hanoi Travel Blog | Chapter 2

r.j. kushner
3 min readDec 13, 2023

Nhi’s mother made an amazing soup to welcome us home. I was offered some spicy chili to add and I eagerly accepted. I was warned repeatedly that this would be “very spicy,” but I insisted that I am “a big spice guy” (?). Nhi’s father carefully cut a few tiny shavings of one tiny chili onto a plate and I dumped them all into my soup. Then I took one sip and spent the next 5 minutes coughing and choking like a cartoon character, tears streaming down my face while I yelled, “I’m fine, really! Wrong pipe!”

We took a taxi into the city and walked around some gift shops, all of which had at least one wooden statue of a turtle smiling in a satisfied sort of way.

We all fought violently over who would carry the tote bags we brought with us, ripping them out of each other’s hands at opportune moments and saying, “Let me carry this!” Sometimes we would attempt to trick each other, saying things like, “Hey, can I see that bag for a sec?” or “Hey, let me hold that bag so I can take your picture.”

Nhi’s father brought us to a small spot that sold fried dough balls and bought a bag of savory balls and a bag of sweet balls. We ate standing and Nhi pointed out that I was the only one who started with the sweet ones. Fortunately we finished both bags before we could fight over carrying them.

We walked past a tattoo shop where the mascot was a 40-year-old Bart Simpson tatted up and exposing his tatted ass. I was too embarrassed to take a picture of it, despite every cell in my body telling me to. But it would have required an explanation to Nhi’s parents. I would have had to tell everyone to stop walking and then they would turn and watch me, their only daughter’s husband, take a picture of this big yellow cartoon ass. Then I would put my phone back in my pocket, turn to everyone and say what? “OK — now I’m ready.”

I got fitted for a suit, a gift from Nhi and her parents. The tailor is the best of the best, and people come from all over the world to see him. He puts you in little Peter Pan pants and you have to lift up your shirt and expose your belly to your in-laws while he jostles you around for a bit. His assistants then ask you a lot of questions about exactly what you want in a suit, something you’ve never thought about it in your life.

Nhi told me afterword that the tailor said I was handsome and looked like “a nice guy.” Devastating.

--

--

r.j. kushner

Dubbed by the New York Times as “all out of free articles this month.”