October around Tay Ho

By on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 in Hanoi | 0 comments

Truly Tay Ho

By on Sunday, October 20, 2013 in Hanoi | 0 comments

The sun was back out again today after a few grey days and Hanoi came beautifully to life. I went out on my bike to visit Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quanh Thanh Temple and then continued cycling around West Lake to meet some friends for mango shake overlooking the lake, and it was — as my mum would say — buzzing. Young Vietnamese were out in force, taking advantage of the sunshine to cruise or smooch by the lake or enjoy an ice cream or coffee with friends, elderly men in shorts and vest tops sat chatting on benches or playing checkers and cyclists abound. It’s also women’s day today and there seemed to be far more flower sellers out than normal so that added to the beauty of the city — it would have added to the beauty of our house if Paul had got off the sofa and bought me some, but that was not to be. Hmmm. I was also glad to eventually manage to get to visit the temple and pagoda. When we came here in 2009 Quanh Thanh Temple was closed for refurbishment so we didn’t go in, and I can’t remember why Tran Quoc was off the agenda, but anyway, it was about time I visited and it’s always better to do these things when the weather’s as perfect as it has been today. Tran Quoc is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, built in the 6th Century AD during the reign of Ly Nam De and it’s an attractive spot, jutting out into West Lake. It’s centre point is a tall tower, captured in an endless number of photos no doubt — we have one from our first trip, taken from the main road — and surrounded by smaller brick structures which I am yet to research the purpose of. But you can read more about that on Travelfish… The day topped off what has been a lovely weekend. On Friday we were lucky enough to enjoy another degustation dinner at Pots n Pans, prepared by Michelin star chef, Felix Eppisier, and yesterday was a relaxed affair, indulging in BBQ’d chicken and burgers in a friend’s garden. Ahhh, Hanoi.  ...

The 80s came to Hanoi

By on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 in Hanoi | 0 comments

I have to mention the 80s night I went to on Saturday because it’s not often you get to dance away to 80s music in Hanoi, and this was a whole night of it. I was in my element, Paul not so much, although he was certainly into the mood by the end of the night and apparently, after I left, got up on stage with a friend and started singing. That hasn’t been verified by a 3rd party but knowing Paul it doesn’t surprise me: give a man a mike… Again, photos are in short supply — and I admit, I didn’t dress up — although I did manage to capture one of Ursh wearing a Top Gun helmet and glasses which she neatly paired with a pretty top and glass of wine. Sorry Ursh!  ...

Inspired by Hooters

By on Sunday, October 6, 2013 in Hanoi | 0 comments

I’ve been meaning to start writing a blog since I arrived in Hanoi but after a few false starts I gave up and focused my writing attention on the odd article for a local magazine and the reviews and wires I write for travel website travelfish.org. But as I sat in a bar the other week, marveling at yet another new experience — more on that in a moment –, I thought how sad it would be not to have a written record of my time here. I sometimes struggle with remembering what happened this morning, so chances of me remembering my life in Hanoi in a few years’ time are slim. I am writing this for me, but if anyone else wants to have a read: welcome. So back to the bar. It was a Saturday night and we were going out with friends to the new Zone 9 area but weren’t sure what the food options were. “Let’s go to Vuvuzela to eat first” said our friend, and off we went. Vuvuzela is a self-claimed “beer club” named after the annoying horns associated with football matches in South Africa. Although I understand that the venue does occasionally screen matches on its many large TVs, there seems little other reason for the name: it is Vietnamese owned with no South African style or connection. It’s actually more of a cross between Hooters – the girls wear shorts and tight t-shirts — and TGI Friday’s, but of course, in a Vietnamese way. It was while I sat there on a high stool, in one of the most crowded and atmospheric bars I’ve been to in Hanoi, drinking a reasonably decent imported beer — it’s not a beer club for nothing –, nibbling on pork ribs, observing the crowds of young and middle-aged Vietnamese and marvelling at the belly dancers — not how good they were, just that they had belly dancers in a Hooters style bar on a Saturday night — that I had one of my “Hanoi rocks!” moments. In fact, this blog was nearly called Hanoi Rocks but the domain wasn’t available and I realised it was a bit naff.  Anyway, it was a magical moment, only spoiled by having to share the only ladies’ toilet with a pile of belly dancer costumes. The men get a one-way mirror and a vomit sink, the girls have to share with belly dancers. And sorry, I don’t have any...