Sunday, 13 April 2008


We unloaded our luggage, showered, and all four of us headed for a recommended restaurant in the Lonely Planet (South-East Asia On A Shoestring) called Little Hanoi. I'm not usually a Lonely Planet traveller, but I'll carry some with me just in case - Rassmus is very much dependent on his because his partner (Eva) is pregnant, so street-food is a no-no and clean places with some standard of hygiene are muchly preferred. We order a hefty amount of dishes and all pitch in, just as well because the couple of things that I ordered wouldn't have filled me up. I'd definitely recommend ordering in a group and getting a taste for everything, as I've had a shrimp dish turn up with octopus tentacles protruding from it; great if you like octopus, but not so if you're me. The food here is fantastic, led on by a pretty drab experience of it in China.

The next day, Rassmus and myself stop by the end of the street for a taste of real Vietnamese food, where you sit on tiny plastic chairs on the pavement and in the street, have your food on tiny plastic tables that my legs cannot go under, and see the whole process of chopping, cooking, washing and serving from your seat. I'd learnt not to be put off by the way this food is prepared, since the cooks smoke, don't wear hats or gloves and have everything washed in a big plastic tub on the floor, because the majority of restaurants have their kitchens hidden, and are far less transparent than this - I've seen many 'proper' restaurants with more questionable methods. Suffice to say the variety isn't great but the food is, better than the night before and is under half the price. I came back here twice, each time I ordered around two or three dishes for myself, a couple of (glass) bottles of Coke and some black alcohol called Mineral Tree Wine, bottled in old Hanoi Vodka bottles and still never paid more than £3 for each meal. You really can live here on less than £10 a day with ease, including accommodation. We settled on a place called the Darling Backpacker's Hostel. Some rooms have ants (usually confined to the bathrooms), but that's to be expected in most places I've found, and the hostel's workers seem to have ADD - that aside, it was fun, cheap, and never short of people to talk to, mostly on similar travels to myself.

Do prepare yourself though, for the onslaught of traffic - cars are outnumbered by scooters and motorbikes by an enormous ratio, but certainly make their presence known. All you can hear going down the street are the beep-beep of vehicles narrowly avoiding each other, unless you can block it out. If you're sensitive to noise pollution, definitely invest in some earplugs as by the end of my week or so, I was going a little spare and couldn't wait for the sun-soaked east coast of Vietnam.

1 comment:

Hemzzz said...

Octopus tentacles? =(