Hanoi again!

Well we’ve now been in Vietnam for several weeks and we’re all getting a little tired of the food. In comparisn to Thai food it is bland and seems to be very similar no matter what restaurant you go to. While we have heard a lot of positive things about Vietnamese food it seems especially hard for me as a vegetarian to eat a varied diet. For example the average vietnamese vegetarian dish is tofu in a tomato and onion sauce. This is actually very nice when done well but after eating it on a regular basis it gets pretty boring. So to finish this rant on Vietnamese food on the evening after we spent the day at the perfume pagoda we decided to go for an Indian! We ate at a restuarant called Tandoor which is owned by a family who also own an all vegetarian Indian restaurant. Bearing in mind I haven’t noticed anyone looking at all Indian in Hanoi the food was excellent. It was also the first time in ages that I have eaten from a metal tray segmented for the different curries, raita, rice and naan. In fact I think that the last time I remember doing this was with the Olivers at some long ago Hari Krishna meal. After food we went for drinks  and an early night as we were all pretty tired. Hmm all this happened a week ago as i’ve been unable to bring this up to date for a while so my memory isn’t great. I’ve just realised that in my last post I said we went to Sago for food but it doesn’t really matter as everything I’ve said here happened I’m just not 100% sure as to when. 

Anyway the next day was a pretty slow one. I think the days of early mornings and not particularly good sleep were starting to get to us so we had a bit of a lie in. In the afternoon we went to the Army museum unfortunately by the time we got there it was getting a little late and it closes quite early, we did however still get to walk around some of the museum and see the impressive collection of US aircraft and vehicles both complete and wreckage that were captured the by Viet Cong.

After the museum we sipped Italian sodas and played chess and chinese chess at an upmarket cafe (hence the sipping) in the grounds of the museum. Shortly after we arrived in Hanoi Craig bought a cheap travel Chinese chess set that were are using to learn how to play. It seems like a pretty good game although I find learning very frustrating as I want to start employing clever strategies but find myself spending ages just trying to work out how to move the pieces. I can’t yet spot where I am vulnerable without a lot of effort which makes the game very hard. Playing Chinese chess has made us a few friends with the locals who often seem very keen to offer advice or play a game against us (they always win easily even when the three of us play together). After we were finished in the Army museum cafe we headed to the road to look for a taxi however this being rush hour it took us quite a while to find an empty one. We got in and Tom told the driver that we wanted to go to I-Box, a bar on the way back that while usually too expensive for us to drink in was currently in happy hour where beers were 2 for 1 making them a reasonable price. After driving for a few kilometers we realised that we were going the wrong way and questioned the driver. It turned out that he thought that Tom had directed him to the airport an hour’s drive. That could have been a very expensive taxi! We eventually arrived at I-box and ordered a round of beers and a couple of half price Mojitos. Once we had finished our first Mojitos we asked for the second ones (we bought two and therefore get 2 free). To cut a long story slightly shorter when happy hour finished and the bill arrived we were charged for 4 mojitos and got 2 for free, this seemed odd as we had only recieved 4 in total so we questioned the bill and were informed that the first 2 mojitos were doubles which we had requested. We hadn’t and furthermore since when can you get a double mojito? Tom and I who had had the first 2 mojitos had wondered why we were feeling surprisingly drunk on only a couple of drinks so once we saw the bill we realised that we had in fact received double mojitos. After a lot of arguing and a talk with the manager well handled by Craig, the most sober of the three of us, we had the drinks reomoved from the bill and paid the price we had expected to pay. After leaving we had a bit of an argument because Tom and Craig seemed to think that the place was intentionally trying to rip us off whereas my opinion was that it was their mistake due to the language barrier. When we left our waiter looked a bit upset and was very keen to make it clear that it was a mistake and wanted our confirmation that the cocktails had actually been doubles rather than singles and that they were not trying to rip us off. Luckily when we could see that we weren’t going to agree on this we ended the argument decided not to fall out over it and go for some food and soft drinks! While eating we watched part of a Vietnam vs Qatar football match on TV. After food we went for drinks and football at ‘Le Pub’ as England were playing Israel. They had a big screen so we spent the evening watching the game with some fellow English people.

The next morning Tom and Craig got up early to go to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. I slept in as this is the one sight in Hanoi that I am saving for Alex’s arrival. Afterwards we went out to a local grilled fish only restaurant that Tom and Craig were really interested in. Afterwards with my stomach giving me some ‘issues’ we went to Papa Joe’s a place that also served western food so that I could eat something that was hopefully calming on the stomach. After lunch we went to a tailor to get me a suit made. We had already been in for a quote and I could get a suit made with two pairs of trousers for about GBP60. This seemed like a good idea and even if the quality wasn’t great it would still be very cheap. After designing my own suit we went for a few games of pool where we won 3 games each! We had pizza in the evening at Sago, our regular haunt then headed back to the Hanoi Guesthouse for the night train to Sa Pa.

Author: Chris Greenwood

IT Consultant, traveller, foodie, husband and occasional blogger

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