Night on the tiles

Last night was a good laugh. I plumped for the usual burger for dinner and as I arrived back at the hostel, the owners offered me a beer. Not one to turn down a freebie, I sat and talked to them and some of the guests for a while as I gulped down my food and drinkie. Most of the group was Aussies, plus an American who I’m sharing a dorm with and a Dutch girl.

It turns out that Michael, who part-runs the place, has been in Hanoi for seven years. I like the place, but not that much! He pretty much knows the city more than anyone else. He also went out for KFC last night. I may save myself the luxury until the end of my stay.

Van, a student lawyer who works for Blue Dragon, picked me up at 7:30 and insisted on buying me dinner. I had Boon Chat (if I recall correctly), which is noodles and fried meat. As usual, the servings were very generous and, I assume, quite cheap as I never even got to see the bill! The meat was a mixture of “mini burgers” and chunks of meat in a soup, while the noodles were served on a separate plate. Spring rolls were also dished up as was a huge bowl of greens.

From there we drove around the Old Quarter for a while as Van “lost his concentration” (I think he spotted a couple of rather nice girls and decided to follow them) before we pulled up at a small cafe by the cathedral where we had a couple of very nice fresh fruit drinks. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Vietnamese man sat at the next table wearing an old Newcastle away shirt (a genuine one, as far as I could tell). It was the old maroon and blue hooped one, for those who recall it. And it was in much better condition than the one I have back home.

Van can’t afford to travel as much as I’ve been lucky enough to, but he loves to hear about other places. Everything from the culture to the laws to the wildlife. I think I’ve planted some seeds, though, as he didn’t realise how cheap Cambodia is compared to Vietnam. It may not be the longest journey in the world, but it’s a different country and would be a great experience for him if he were to be able to go.

As he dropped me off, he also suggested a trip around Hanoi at the weekend. He has a bike and spare time, and would be happy to show off the city where he lives. I’ve been meaning to visit so many places up to now and not got round to it so I’ll definitely be taking him up on that. So far in Hanoi I have remained exclusively in the Old Quarter, which makes up maybe one sixth of the area of the city. Hey, I may even see if he wants to visit the zoo!

Once Van departed, I recruited a couple of other people (Neil from Hertfordshire and Kat and Brit from Denmark – I hope I’ve spelled their names correctly!) and we headed out for some Bia Hoi. The usual place was nicely busy and we even got to see the street cleaners sucking the drains clean as we finished our last beers. Only in Hanoi!

More beer was required, so we made the short walk to Bao Khanh and settled on The Hole In The Wall Bar as somewhere to sit and talk. We had the place to ourselves, but it’s tiny so you never feel like you’re in a vacant barn. Dart board, moderately priced beer, stupidly strong cocktails and a juke box.

I think it was about 2am when we got back to the hostel and crashed out. And as usual, I couldn’t sleep past 8am. Ah well. Today will be a tiring one, but I don’t start at Blue Dragon until 1:30. Plenty of time to chill out!

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