Hanoi Day 1

Continued from Train to Hanoi.

“So here we are with our nice bunk mate, a nice young Vietnamese guy, and we’re thinking this is going to be a very easy train ride…About an hour into the trip(we invited the young man to share our table and we were all talking) the door opens and there’s a middle-aged Vietnamese couple peering into our room. There is only one bed left in here.  Apparently the guy bought “cheap” tickets for two beds and they only gave them one. He then proceeds to pull the cabin attendant aside to “persuade” him to let them both stay in the cabin. His wife is quiet and climbs right up onto the top bunk and goes to bed. The guy on the other hand has about 5 plastic bags filled with a ton of stuff that he proceeds to put in our designated leg space(despite the fact that there is plenty of storage for the top bunks that are BY the top bunks. He then sits on KL’s bed, takes his shoes off and puts his bare feet on my bed and blanket. He starts picking under his long nails and flicks the contents all over the cabin…and he still wont move off KL’s bed. After about 15min of this he then pulls out a large bong and tobacco and offers us a smoke. No thanks. Finally we get him off KL’s bed by saying we’re going to bed(it’s only 8pm). Then he also goes to bed and we find out, naturally, the guy snores very loudly.  At three in the morning, after coughing and snoring for hours, the guy gets up and opens the cabin door letting in all the light from the hallway, sits on KL’s bed(while he is sleeping and wakes him up) again for awhile and get his bong out and goes to smoke, comes back and sits on KL’s bed again for a bit before going to his own bed. At 5am he gets up, opens the curtains, the door and sits on KL’s bed(waking him up again), yet again…guess we’re up for the day!” –RL

Woken up before we are ready to wake up. Fucker.

There’s the “King” of our cabin sitting on my bed waking me up from my sleep. WTF man!

His bong that brings back in all the smoke.

When he first showed up, he literally put all these bags right at my feet!!


I managed to get some sleep here and there last night, but RL was so angry and worried about this guy that she didn’t get any sleep. Ugh.

People exercise here early. It’s like 5:30am.

We pull into the station, and there’s a whole row of taxis literally parked on the platform. We got off the train and tried to get into one, but I think they are only heading to the airport.

The madhouse of taxi touts. We got the guy in the taxi booth to hail us a taxi.

That was easy.

Our hotel.

RL not happy. Stupid asshole on our train.

Pretty nice. This is what $33 a night gets you in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

Ohhh, ahhh.

Breakfast! I had paid extra half day price for early check in, but they wanted to charge us breakfast on top of that. Fuck that. I was able to sweet talk them into giving us breakfast. Yeah!

Pho for breakfast. While I am here eating, RL is up in the room asleep.

Being the loving husband that I am, I bring her breakfast to have at the bedside after she wakes up. Seriously, I am amazing.

Hours of early morning nap later, we are ready to head out for lunch and walk around the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

They love their mopeds here.

KFC KFC KFC!!! I don’t care, I am eating it. I can’t believe there’s a KFC here in the Old Quarter though. Everything else is a mom and pop shop.

Shrimp pattie, not the greatest. KFC was just ok. The chicken here tastes a little different than back in the States. Still, it kind of hit the spot.

Hoa Lo Prison, aka The Hanoi Hilton.

Broken glass bottles to prevent climbing over the walls.

The Vietnam propaganda machine hates the French…well, the French probably didn’t treat the Vietnamese very well so probably well deserved.

And today, the cells store…chairs.

Actual guillotine that the French used for the prisoners.

Then the prison was used by the Communists to house American POW during the Vietnam War.

John McCain was imprisoned here. Yes, that John McCain. Vietnamese Propaganda says that they treated John McCain super well. John McCain says they treated him super well too. He said that they tortured him daily and put him in solitary confinement for two years. Whether or not you like his politics(I tend to not), that man had to go through a lot and chose not to be released early in front of other POWs. He actually loves his country. Wikipedia it, it’s kind of interesting.

Why is it in English?

Ohhhh propaganda.

Christmas and basketball!! I too want to be a POW in Communist Vietnam!! Please let me be captured by the enemy!!

OK, that’s that, time to move on.

First Porsche 911 I’ve seen on this entire trip.

Up ahead is Hoan Kiem Lake.

This seems like the spot to sit down and relax a little.

Tortoise Tower in the middle of the lake. There is an endangered giant(over 200 pounds) soft shell turtle that lives in this lake. It is thought to be 1 of 4 specimen still in existence. No turtle was sighted by me today.

Warm beer, but they give you ice…ugh, it’s so hot.

I gave iced beer a try, it’s so hot out here. Two thumbs down.

RL brought another fan. Time for more portrait series.

Too lazy to fix the exposure issues, but you get the idea. We then took a stroll around the lake, it’s hot.

RL buys a dress from a street stall.

Despite the name, I don’t think they played swing music, at least not when we peeked in the door.

Hanoi Opera House. This is the fancy part of town with all the high end retail shops.

There are so many people getting married in Vietnam.

Pretty, if they were real, which they are not.


This bridge connects to the Temple of the Jade Mountain. You had to pay $1 to get in, so we didn’t…in retrospect, should have gone. They’ve got a mummified turtle in there just like the one in the lake!

All fake.

The not so pretty parts of Vietnam. It’s not a very clean country, and there are motorbike exhaust fumes everywhere. Ah, Asia.

And occasionally, you run across a dead mouse in the middle of the road.

How about that one piece on the mannequin in the center of the photo? Yeah? yeah?

Fake stuff everywhere.

More lacquer at the shops. All the shops sell the same items and there are like 5 of the same shops per block. I never see people buy anything, how do these people make money and survive?

This is a bar street. Yes!

Saving this for later tonight.

A jug of mystery oil. They use a lot of oil in their cooking here in Vietnam.

Now we are at a whole street with nothing but traditional Eastern medicine stores. There are probably 20 of them on a short stretch, and the whole street smells badly of roots and whatnot. Do not like.

Again, what’s the sexist and hottest profession in Asia? Hair Stylist!

Came back to hotel by mid afternoon to dodge some of the heat outside.

Time to head to dinner. RL pointed out this little figurine to me in our hotel hallway. Very nice.

Short walk to the restaurant.

Found, but not without some trouble.

The real restaurant is called Cha Ca La Vong, and it’s located where the two guys are to the right. Farther down the street on the opposite side(by the silver car), there is a “fake” Cha Ca La Vong restaurant with a hawker that wanted us to go in there instead. Good thing we didn’t fall for it. We read reviews online afterwards, and found out a lot of people go to the fake one and get way overcharged.

This place serves only one dish, pan fried fish. It’s been around a long time, and in fact, this street is named after this restaurant.

Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods ate here, he sat at that empty table by the window.

The food comes. It’s 170,000 dong per person which is about $8 each. That’s VERY expensive by Vietnamese standards. I am sure they charge foreigners a higher price, because I see plenty of locals eat here and I doubt they pay the high price.

For the high price, there isn’t a lot of food.

Beer was warm and the service lukewarm. The food was pretty oily, but really, pretty unique and pretty tasty. Had to try it, but I can only recommend with reservation. If you don’t mind paying a high price and getting small portions with shitty service, then you can enjoy this famous dish.

OK, on our way to the bars.

Except, on the way there we ran into a night market. I guess we’ll check this out for a bit.

A Texas Longhorns hat!! Odd to see that here.

It says Apster.

Pretty typical night market…lots and lots of stuff I don’t want to buy.

This is more of my flavor, bars.

Street side seating!

It’s happening over at this end!!

All those people sitting on the street are drinking Bia Hoi, which is a really cheap locally brewed beer that is brewed daily at night and drank only for the next day. It’s got a low alcohol content at around 3%. Cool, I wanna try. But first, let me sit inside an actual bar and drink a draft beer to observe the scene.

A Tiger, not a Bia Hoi.

OK, making our move to find one of those small chairs to sit on. The lady standing up to the left of the photo ran this Bia Hoi operation. She walked around taking orders for both beers and food.

We came down the side of the street where it wasn’t as crowded and overwhelming.

My beer. Comes out of a keg with a garden hose spout.

Man, these chairs are small.

Cheers!! I really enjoyed this unique beer experience. The beer was relatively cold, surprisingly. It was pretty watery tasting with not much flavor(kinda like my beer with ice), but it was only 5000 dong, which makes it about a quarter! Drink enough, it’ll do the job. I did not see a restroom anywhere in sight though, I wonder if everyone is drinking here and holding it in?

After my Bia Hoi, we dropped into an Irish Pub with a balcony.

This will do.

I really enjoy the bustling energy of the local drinking scene.

Alright, got a good buzz, time to head home.

It’s Sunday night and all these people are out drinking at 9pm. I guess the beer is so weak, few people are getting drunk from it, even if they get the Asian Flush.

It’s been a long day, looking forward to sleep. We are thinking that we like Hanoi.

To be continued at Hanoi Day 2.

1 thought on “Hanoi Day 1

  1. The Longhorns are supposedly super popular in certain parts of Asia. There is an entire bar dedicated to the Longhorns in Hong Kong … which should have my uncles drivers license nailed to the wall. The owner found out he was from Austin, asked to see his license, and promptly nailed it in place without asking. The whole team of IBM engineers drank for free the rest of the week though.

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