We took an overnight train from Phong Nha and arrived in Hanoi early the next morning. We had arranged to spend a few days with Addie’s aunt Wyler and her travel buddy Ashton. That first day, Wyler introduced us to a contact from her hometown in Georgia, Chuck Searcy, who is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Chuck came back to the country in the early 1990's and has lived in Vietnam since. After moving, he helped to begin Project Renew, which is a non-profit organization devoted to managing the problem of unexploded ordinance scattered throughout the country as a result of the American conflict. Since its inception Project Renew has destroyed over 55,000 explosives and educated countless children and adults about how to keep themselves safe if they come across undetonated war remnants. Hearing his story was humbling and inspiring. One of the most unexpected benefits of this trip has been gaining a much clearer understanding of the Vietnam War (or rather the American War as it's referred to here) and its devastating effects.
On our first evening in Hanoi we went to a popular local restaurant called Chả Cá Thăng Long to try a famous Hanoian dish called Cha Ca. It’s a delicious meal consisting of fresh fish, greens, herbs and noodles that is cooked at the table in front of you. Pairs nicely with a cold Hanoi Beer draft.