After the $25 tour of Halong Bay, Duc's mom called to ask if I want to spend dinner with them. Her sister who lives separate from the family was home for a visit so they prepared food. I found myself at the back ride of Duc's motorbike towards the other side of Halong City past the iconic bridge. I was warmly welcomed by his family -- mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law and nephew -- and the simple dinner I expected was grand.
Duc's mom even requested that I stay with them overnight so Duc and I were on the motorbike again few minutes after the meal to go back to my hostel and get my stuff. But Duc made sure to give me a little tour around before doing so. We visited two shopping malls including the posh mall he does part-time job at. We ate in Loterria in one mall and window-shopped in another. All these happened on a freezing night and it was drizzling. I couldn't help but shiver and miss the warm weather in the Philippines. I admire Duc for being so active studying in university during the day and doing part-time job at night. In this kind of weather, I might just tuck myself in bed all day and wouldn't want to go out.
In Duc's words, "sanayan lang yan". Well, I translated that in Filipino.
Oh, the plan to stay with Duc's family didn't happen. When we arrived at my hostel, Duc received a message from his classmates that they were to go to school early the next day to donate blood. I decided to just stay at the hostel instead and Duc went back the next morning after his school activity to take me to the bus station.
But before saying goodbye, I told Duc to drop by a Pho house for my last breakfast with him in Halong City. A heavenly bowl of Pho for a cold day.
My stay at Halong City was simple and the tour of Halong Bay was also simple but made extra special because of my friend Duc. Best of all, because I didn't just make a friend in Halong, I also made a new family!