Chilly this morning. Rain lifted. On road to the airport by seven. Usual scooter rush. More trucks and SUV’s as we moved out on to the Hanoi version of a freeway. People standing along shoulder waiting for rides to work. Food stalls filled with Hanoians eating Pho.
Dzung, chairman of the Chemical Engineering Department at the university asked me to select a restaurant for our farewell dinner. My reputation precedes me even in Vietnam. I researched diligently and then had a long talk with Eric our hotel sales manager. When I reserved a room at Golden Sun Eric emailed me almost immediately offering services and personal help. As a former tour guide he knows his way around the block. He suggested Ao Ta, a restaurant in the financial district. I followed his suggestion. As it turned out of the group that joined us only Dzung had been to the restaurant. The dinner signaled the end of our work in Hanoi.
Huong showed up on her scooter.
Parting with such wonderful people proved none too easy, especially Son. He had picked us up when we arrived at the Hanoi Airport and I have seen him almost every day since. The last time my partner was in Hanoi, Son had taken him to Halong Bay; this time he accompanied us to Mai Chua. We worked on his English and had long talks about Buddhism. It is his wish to go to Dharamasala to meet the Dai lai Lama. Full of youthful confidence and humor, he is deeply spiritual. He plans to go to Europe or the US if his English is good enough to work on his doctorate. I was surprised to find out that English language requirements for incoming graduate students are tougher in the US and UK than any other country. Many of the Vietnamese go to Germany. Courses are taught in English, but the English requirements not as strict as the above and the university education is free.
When I said good-by to Son there were tears in his eyes and mine, too. For the near future we will be pen-pals.