Friday, 6 August 2010
Gin at the Hilton and Beer at the best Beer Hoi place in town
Yesterday we had the best day yet in Vietnam. We wandered down to the cathedral set in a really nice area with lots of boutiques and colonial style cafes. Wandered over to a sort of Chinesey place and enjoyed a few glasses of beer before wandering along the lake shore and into a few galleries. We then spied the Hanoi Hilton (not the prison but the real Hilton)and bethought us of a posh G&T.
The whole experience, whilst very pleasurable, was really surreal as there were about 4 french couples sitting together each sporting a 6 month old Vietnamese baby (they must have been quadruplets that the couples had bought) It was really sort of spooky and we began to bandy story ideas about - scaring ourselves more and more. Especially this became the case when we noticed two separate incidents of pregnant Viet women heading through a mirrored door off the lobby..
After that we went to the other extreme and found a famous Beer Hoi place (Tiger Cage Bia Hoi) across the road. A real locals joint where they served up snake, frog, dog and all manner of vile sounding delicacies. Simon order frogs legs and put one finger up which the servers thought hilarious (thinking he wanted just one leg instead of a portion of two) It was really good fun, with locals coming over and trying to initiate "down in one" style drinking games (though they had the advantage as they were drinking shots of rice wine, whilst Pants had a half a beer to demolish).
We finally decided to settle up but Pants wanted to visit the loo one more time and take his video camera! (I know he is a bit strange!) No no the reason was that to get to the boys room (basically a tiled cupboard with a hole in the corner) he had to walk through the kitchens and food prep areas. He returned about 5 mins later (I had begun to worry he may have ended up on the menu, he took so long) with some hilarious footage of the back room activities from peeled frogs, scorpions awaiting plating, to kitchen boys sharpening great chopppers, to cooks and servers waving at the camera and giggling. I think you may be in for a treat if he can load the video here.
We took a cab back and agreed a couple more beers before an early night. Ended at another little red chair beer hoi place and I watched in squeamish horror at a rat run across the porch roof of a bar opposite and then in even greater grossedoutness as another rat ran from a concrete telegraph pole across the wires and then down an electric flex into the cafe we were in and then straight into a plastic vegetable drawer set and then out again with a peanut in its jaws. This was repeated and repeated until the laughing staff put an end to my misery by removing the bag of nuts from the drawer.
We then began chatting with a great guy from Australia- Ian (an ex-chef, now in the export business - buying cookery equipment - knives etc and sending them back to Aus) We had a really enjoyable evening chatting with him about SE Asia and beyond. A cheeky waiter (aged about 14) kept pinching cigs off me and then asked Simon to buy him a beer and then... the cheeky little blighter, sat down like a oldster at our table and looked for all the world like he was deep into the conversation we were having. He drew a picture of a rat and teased me with it and then a picture of Simon with his big bushy beard!
Got back to the hotel about 8.30 and I hit the hay whilst pants went out for more fun and hilarity, returning about midnight with a jolly swagger and conical hat!! Least said about this the better... suffice to say he is quite humble this morning - GOOD!
Not sure how to spend today - I am actually a bit exhausted and really just want to get another book and settle in to read until Bangkok now- though there's always a food problem. Really not enjoying my food at all (though am still fat) Simon is getting braver and braver and I expect to witness some snake/dog consumption pretty soon unless I can lure him away with the promise of pizza.
Love to all