Lowlights of Vietnam
This is the conclusion of a Swiss expat living in Hanoi, which was on the Pathfinder 2005. Enjoy!
5. "HELLO MOTO"
The prennial hoohoo-ing of xe om drivers is as much a part of Vietnamese life as Pho. Is there anything more annouing that the strange mating call of the sadly unendangered species that greets you every morning as you walk down the same road? Admittedly now I find the noise a pretty accurate modd swing barometer.
4. Why did the chicken cross the road...
Because he had a death wish. Timidly stepping forwards like young chicks, edging slowly across, between the never-ending stream of motorbikes, to the safe-haven of the adjacent pavement, only to find it cluttered with food stalls. Mind you sitting at a good advantage point cafe watching fresh travellers trying to negociate their way through the motorbikes is a valid of top 5 experience.
3. Whingeing Poms
Whingeing certainly ismt confined to the sceptred isle. What is worse than hearing a fellow expat slagging of the the Vietnamese, from the comforts of a western cafe or air conditioned house overlooking the West Lake. And if I never hear another " he called me fat " conversation well it still will to be many. If you dont like it why stay.
2. Pennies from heaven
This really should be number one, but I've only heard of it through the grapevine. Sitting on a motorbike and having a bag of vomit, chucked from a passing bus, land on your lap, or worse still smack into your motorbike helmet. Yuck!
1. Xe om smells
" I love the smell of a xe om drivers shirt in the morning". Not really, but still, as bad as their mating call is, it's that ditinctive, higly toxic smell that gets my number one award. It's almost enough to make you wear a motorbike helmet.
Hanoi:Watching Old Folks at Ho An Kiem Lake
The old folks at Ho An Kiem Lake are a fascinating lot. Observe them from a distance discretely and watch them play Chinese Chess.
Brows furrowed in concentration, contemplating their every move on a wooden chess board.
Where:A Pavilion at Ngoc Son Temple, Ho An Kiam Lake
Lacquered Egg Shell Paintings
Another beautiful alternative are lacquer paintings! Again you can get local art or repros of impressionist paintings made into lacquer egg shell paintings. I bought several when I was in Vietnam, including one of Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss"... polished to a high shine, with very attractive colours on a gleaming black background, these would make a nice addition to any home.
Getting Around By Taxi
If you need a taxi in Hanoi, it's better if you order from hotel or a restaurant, they will order taxi from good company.
And they say, it's free to make a local call for the first 3 minutes (cmiiw).
And don't forget to show the address, let him read the address you're heading to, and do not only say it, we never know the correct pronounciation of their language. So bring along your map and hotel's card name.
There's no standard price of the meter taxi. But from airport to Hanoi (or opposite) it costs about 12 USD.
Great Vietnamese Food
We wanted to eat in Little Hanoi, but the Lonely Planet effect meant that it was full all evening, however they pointed us to their other restaurant, Ancient Town, a few hundred yards away (they provided an easy map).
This place was deserted when we entered, but we decided to stay. On closer examination, the décor seemed perfect for the name, in that it hadn’t been touched up for many a year. Cleanliness was definitely not the top priority in this place – the tablecloth looked more of a ‘before’ than ‘after’ example from a detergent ad and the toilet was not a room you want to spend a long time in if you can help it, but forget all that – it was the food that stood out from the crowd.
We started with 1 portion of roll-your-own spring rolls with caramelised beef and a very fresh, zesty mix of salad leaves and a great dipping sauce. It was a huge portion, enough for 2, far too much for 1.
This was followed by me having a very generous serving of spicy fried chicken with 5 flavours (I detected 4 of them) and steamed rice, and #1 Borsch Maker having fried tuna in sweet and sour sauce. My chicken was fabulous – spicy, subtle, juicy, lots of veg. The tuna was also reported as being first class. At the end of the meal, the waiter brought us some very sweet, juicy pineapple.
With drinks (1 glass of wine, 1 beer and 2 lemon juices) the bill came to a little under $10 for 2 – great food, great value and excellent service. Forget the stuff you can’t eat and focus on the stuff you can!