One of the many pleasures of Hanoi is waking up at 5 a.m., walking (or running) to Hoan Kiem Lake, and seeing the city come alive—with hundreds of people of all ages, but more in the 60-80 year-old range, exercising together. (The average age seems to drop later in the morning, with more people in their 20s and 30s exercising by 6:30 or so.) Seeing so many people come together before dawn to move around and stay healthy and limber is an incredible and inspiring sight.
If there is a more photogenic city in the world than Luang Prabang, Laos, I’d like to see it.
For Jude, the best part of visiting Budapest was definitely going on a pony. Jude and I were hanging out at a small petting zoo in City Park (while mom soaked in one of the city’s thermal baths nearby) when we saw a little girl (maybe 3 or 4) taking a pony ride. Jude was captivated, but didn’t want to get too close as he has always been scared of large animals. When she was finished, I told him, “Now it’s Jude’s turn.” “No!” he screamed. Sensing that he would have a change of heart, I picked him up while the screaming continued, and placed him on the pony. I had to wave off the woman in charge who gestured in surprise that I would put a screaming child on top of her pony. Sure enough, the screaming quickly subsided and Jude ended up loving the experience. He talks about it still pretty much constantly, and even did a second ride to show mom how brave he had been after she got out of the bath.
It was around 4 a.m. when the shriek of ambulance sirens sounded just outside of our hotel room, and I desperately hoped that Jude would not wake up; then I wondered whether visiting a favored Eastern European sex tourism capital on a Saturday night was really the world’s best idea.