Friday, November 2, 2007

Hanoi, Vietnam

Lets get right into this thing:

1. Hanoi city does not offer much if you're a South East Asian male EXCEPT for the wondrous price of beer - USD1 for a 500ml bottle of Tiger! USD1.50 or 2 for a Heineken depending on the location. I have heard from some of my friends in Thailand that they like the Hanoi women espcially since they supposedly have larger bobos but I failed to notice much in that area.(hey I'm just repeating my buds from the North!)

2. The ladies will love the Old Quarter which comes across as a Petaling Street on steroids - 37 streets of cheap stuff - one street dedicated to each product line - shoes, clothes, toys, bags, etc. But as a whole I found the products butt ugly as it seems to be aimed at blind retard tourists because I never saw any local wearing the stuff hanging from the stalls.

3. The food is somewhat lacking in spices and definitely not something that stands up to our Malaysian fare especially compared to the variety we have here. Of course I didn't have the time to check out the real street food at the 'squatting stall's where every one's parked on low stools, sipping away on some good looking broth. Ayevielim, the kind babe who took me under her wing in Hanoi did sample it and said it was awesome.

4. There's still some bits that tends to surprise - all manner of freshly killed hogs tied to small little 'cub chai' bikes, the skinny buildings that seem to stretch out to the sky and the the women in office clothes on bikes, complete with colorful printed surgical masks.

Ayevielim and her chick lit.

Some sign.

Look at the pretty colours ma! Yeah, okok. Sorry...

Cramped and slumish as it was in some areas, some made an effort to spruce up their shops.

Venom wine - that's a pickled cobra holding the scorpion in its mouth. Most awesome. Supposed to give you an erection to pummel a concrete wall.

Tony Roma's Hanoi branch.

View from most imaginatively named joint in town - the City View Restaurant at the edge of Hoan Kien Lake.

5. Hanoi has the best undiscovered extreme sport in the world- crossing the friggin' street that's perpetual swarming with bikes that don't stop for anyone! After a while it was a great adrenaline rush as we realized that like a weird swarm mentality they would move around us when we barged into the flowing traffic on the road. We'd just have to blow caution to the wind and step out onto the busy street. Of course with the law of averages and all, there was one minor accident witnessed as two bikes clanged into each other. And the best part was the riders just looked surprised and quietly put the bikes up and went along their way.

The Hang Be Night Market - Best place for cheap crap to give away to that annoying secretary in the office who expects gifts just because she books your flights for you.

Bad shot but surreal as the break dancing boys were having fun under the obviously pissed of statue of some important dude (dont know his name and hey this isn't Lonely Planet)

Interior of the Bobby Chin restaurant in Hanoi. So-so food and stale bread. Bobby, you're spending too much time on Travel and Living man...Good service though.

Some art in Bobby Chin's. Took the pic only because the chick on the bike looked like Annie Lennox. Is she?

Culi Cafe - a typical travel agent cum cafe for backpackers. We booked the Halong Bay trip from here.

A microbrewery in the Old Quater serving Belgian Red Beer. Light and smooth but not much of a kick. Almost pissed it right out.

Masked Rider Version 25.0

Mother of Masked Rider

Old Quarter street scene. Could be in Petaling Street except we replace the biker girl with a Rempit clown.

Old Quarter stuff

Holy sugar candied sweetness Batman! Kill me now!

Ladies, start you engines...

Some of the hats quality were not bad. The only one I liked was covered with 3 years of dust. I've got very exclusive taste you know.

Well least this street was not very tourists oriented. Mainly locals but it was quiet most of the time anyway.

The Propaganda Art Gallery. The coolest stuff in the Old Quarter. Unfortunately the merhandise were all at designer prices. At first they wouldn't let me take a picture of the vintage posters as this is supposedly a very sensitive subject with American tourists who accuse the Vietnamese for not letting go of the past. When I said I was from Seremban they could only smile and offer me cow's milk brued coffee(i jest of course. The woman get fed-up of my incoherrent babbling). But they did request me not to use the flash. How nice.

There were some cool posters and t-shirts that were hard core Communists propaganda themed.

The French Quarter seemed posh and pretentious as fuk especially after we slummed it out at the Old Quarter. The pic above is the shopping arcade at the Metropole Hotel. A HUGE difference from the Old Quarter which was just about 15 minutes walk away.

All in all the Vietnamese are nice folks although they give shit directions. The pirated copy of Lonely Planet made us feel like we were in the Bermuda Triangle with pubs and roads that did not exist AND we realised that food recommendations were based on Mat Salleh taste buds eg Pho24 a highly recommended beef noodle chain served noodles that would be outshone by any Maggi in a cup cooked by a drunk ferret with a lisp.

The weather however was lovely especially at night when we sat 5 stories up at the open air roof top of the City View Restaurant that overlooked the lake with the horns and lights from the hundreds of bikes and cars swirling around us on the roads below. The cool, cool evening wind just wouldn't let us stop drinking, whispering promises of better times ahead if we stayed on and ordered another round. Did I mention the beers were cheap? Thani Darr Vietnam!

Upcoming, the extremely excellent Halong Bay!


Nex said...

Just looked at the pics and skimmed through the text, but man, you seem to have seen quite a few more things then me in Hanoi. Did you have some sort of guide or a local contact?

We totally didn't go out at night vecause when we were there it was like 40 degrees during the day, most of the time, and by evening I was exhausted and severely dehydrated.

Wanted to give Bobby Chin a try but decided we needed our limited US$ for something better.

Really need to go back there again during this time of year when its much cooler...

Hope your Halong Bay experience was better then ours. We paid for, and were promised a boat with no more then 16 people, but ended up sharing a boat with 31 people! And a few of the people got totally shabbier sleeping quarters then what they supposedly paid for.

But I must say for a war ravaged communist country, they've come a long way, considering their tourism industry is only around 10 years old.

Chindiana said...

No guide Nex! just an extremely suspect counterfeit copy of lonely planet. But the weather was MUCH better than yours, bout 28 degress in the day so we basically spent almost the entire day just wandering around. Actually the main reason we covered so much ground was we were looking for places to get drunk especially one called the Toilet Pub which we never found. Shite!

Han Solo said...

I booked my Halong Bay trip with Handspan, the shop you took a picture of. It wasn't too bad at all, the food was very good. I was in Hanoi on Sept 11, 2001 and I went to Halong the day after. The boat trip was full of Mat Sallehs who looked at me with great suspicion, heh heh.

Chindiana said...

Hey Solo, what a irony re Handspan! I can imagine them Mat Sallehs making plans to jump off the boat the first sign of ticking sounds coming from your body!

Wak This Way said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wak This Way said...

Hi there, nice article. I've never really wanted to visit Vietnam at the first place and now I've read your post, I am definitely not bothered anymore.

I would however appreciate it if you could tell me where I can find one of those Maggi cooking drunk ferret (lisp optional), might come handy someday if I ever find myself in Hanoi.

Chindiana said...

Wak! Thanks for the nice words but don't give up on Vietnam. Halong Bay is not bad. It just Hanoi that didn't do it for me. There is also Sapa that's great hiking country if you're into that sorta thing.

That ferret? Easy dude, just pop a flu tablet, a Panadol and have a beer in a coupla minutes and you'll see them creeping right out from under your ass! haha! Thats the influence I was in when I wrote that post as I was having a fever and a cold. The beer? I'm a dumbass right, so I had run out of water at my place and was sorta thirsty...