Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Hello! It's hubby Brian. I am guest blogging an entry for Hanoi as Katie was sick the entire time we were there and only left the hotel to get pho ga (chicken soup). Hanoi was equally as crazy, if not more crazy than Ho Chi Minh, but it definitely had more charm. The traffic situation is insane, especially around the Old Quarter where we stayed (and I did not get too far from the Old Quarter myself, due to time constraints and Katie’s illness). The streets in the Old Quarter are rather narrow. And the sidewalks are used entirely for street food seating, and motorbike parking, so one is required to walk in the road, along with all the various motorized and non-motorized traffic. I sat at a bia hoi one afternoon and took several videos of the traffic because it is like nothing you see in the States. Here is a link to one of those videos. There is also a link showing one of the walking full service, sit down restaurants here.
The Old Quarter is largely a market area, and several streets are named for the items that are predominantly sold on that street, so you have “tin street” and “silk street” and “shoe street” etc. Hanoi also has several lakes dotted around the city, giving at least a small sense of nature to the crowded urban streets.
My favorite past time in Hanoi was enjoying beers from the little corner beer shops called bia hoi. Every morning, someone from the shop goes to a larger brewery (the bia hoi I went to got its beer from Bia Hanoi) and fetches the day’s supply. “Unlike canned or bottled beer, bia hoi has no additives or preservatives and is essentially made to be consumed on the day that it leaves the factory. As a result, there is no stocking of bia hoi, and outlets must forecast accordingly. They must purchase just enough to last one full day. Locals will tell you that bia hoi, which typically has an alcohol content of somewhere between 4 and 4 1/2 percent, is best when served early in the day--as close to when it has been made as possible.”
I enjoyed the beer as much as any I have had in Southeast Asia (though I hear Beerlao is quite nice, and I intend to sample that this evening, or even this afternoon. Perhaps Beerlao is also better served earlier in the day?!?), and each glass is about 33 cents. The environment at the bia hoi is very social and communal (and male). I was made to feel welcome at the local bia hoi near my hotel despite my language barrier, and it was a great place to watch the local traffic go by.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Name, Age and Country of origin
My name is Matt, I’m 29 and I’m from London.
Can you tell me where you’ve been traveling already and what you have coming up, and how long you’ve been traveling?
I can :) I’ve been traveling about 3-4 weeks now, I’m not entirely sure because time doesn’t really seem to work well. So far I’ve been in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Cambodia and now Vietnam and I’m here for another week before I go back to the U.K., then I’m off to the U.S. for two weeks.
Did you have any goals for yourself for this trip that you were hoping to achieve, or things you were hoping to focus on with the time you had on this trip?
In a word, no. Um, to have fun. And to see what I see, it’s about experiencing as much as I can in life.
If you had to describe one of your favorite moments on this trip, what would that be?
Probably right now, being interviewed. I mean this was kind of actually what I was hoping for when I came out for this trip. Meeting a band [Ha]!
My favorite bit so far, in Vietnam is actually cycling around on the streets. I’ve spent so long being run over by people on bikes and mopeds that I thought it was actually quite fun to be part of that big group myself , getting in the way. That was quite fun, I recommend it, you should do it.
Now what about some other places you visited besides Vietnam?
Probably just hanging out with friends, because I’ve been seeing friends in different places, yeah Korea was great because I got to see a friend I hadn’t seen in 6 years, so that was great. I mentioned the sauna there earlier, that was quite fun.
At this point a young lady comes up to us to sell us bracelets:
Matt says: You should buy something (to me). Would you like to be interviewed (to the woman selling things)
Lady Selling things: Where you from? (To Matt)
Matt: If you watch the video you can find out…
So being away from London for a while, and it sounds like you travel quite a lot, do you feel like on this trip in particular you have learned anything new about yourself that you find interesting?
No, not really. I’m not particularly introspective (all laughing) I’ve basically learned that I’m still awesome.
Can you summarize your philosophy of life in one sentence?
Um, yes I can. I’d say to you experience as much as you can in life, push yourself as much as you can and look after your friends and family.
Brian: Awww he’s a softy, who knew he was a softy?
Matt: I’m just saying that to make you all like me.
Any other thoughts?
I want you guys to busk in Vietnam, maybe this evening.
Brian: I have one more question, would you like to buy some tiger balm?
Matt: Um, no.