Today was spent chilling out good and proper. Hanoi is an amazing place to wander around aimlessly as every street in the old quarter is absolutely buzzing with activity. Anything goes on from people cutting out marble headstones on the pavement, to carving drums, making belts, to just constantly eating at street stalls. Like bits of Yangon in Myanmar, each street seems to specialise in specific types of goods from leather to paper to whatever else, and the streetnames even reflect this.
You can buy pretty much anything you want – the only thing I haven’t seen in the old town is modern gadgets like cameras etc. Kick ass big televisions yes, but not many cameras…I still need my replacement, and I’ve just been given the go-ahead by my insurance to get one out here. There is the same old ceramics I bought in Hoi An, but they are even cheaper here at a mere $5 a teaset!!! There are ‘North Face’ bags by the dozen starting at $5 and of pretty decent quality (rain covers too!), and even the odd Crumpler camera bag. Knock off CD’s and DVD’s are all over the place starting at 50 cents for a CD, and under a dollar for a DVD. Sometimes I’m in heaven then I remember I am travelling for a long time so still can’t go mental. I even wanted to send wicker baskets home!
But alas, you can only do so much shopping, so we found the Bai Hoi stands at the corner of P Ta Hien and L Luong Ngoc Quyen. Like the one in Hoi An, these sell fresh beers, but there are around 5-10 places all in the same area and they sell fresh beer straight from the keg for 2000 Dong a glass (yes, thats around 23 cents, or 6 PENCE A GLASS!). It’s not the strongest, or tastiest beer I’ve had but I Had around 7 glasses for under 50 pence.
These Bia Hoi places are pretty well known so people come and go all day, from locals to travellers, with quite a buzz around some evenings. They are also at a great location as well – at a 4 street intersection, where the streets are really narrow, and there’s no roundabout, where there would be elsewhere. We sat there for around 4 hours just watching the world go by drinking beer and a half bottle of rum ($1.25). A whole day could easily be spent, only leaving your seat to make space for more beer. People approach you to sell you lighters, books, snacks, baskets, shine your shoes, and you can get takeaway food from just around the corner for next to nothing. The female sellers with their baskets over their shoulders constantly use that catchy walk and wiggle movements and offer you everything from hot food to fruit on their way by. After a while you even start to channel out the constant honking of horns that is ever present all over Hanoi.
And I was witness to that mythical thing today – the beer scooter!! Yes guys, it does exist!! But this one brings fresh beer to replenish supplies on a Honda Dream scooter! And almost as good as this, when I got some crips they were even stamped with authority that they were an ideal ‘beer match’. See attached pictures.
After being so chilled, it was just along the road for real food, then I bumped into a couple of guys from the Netherlands I drank with in Battambang, Cambodia, so had a few beers with them.