Bia Hoi

Hanoi Travel Blog

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I was in a charming little town in Vietnam called Hoi An. Ok so charming is way over used to describe small towns by people who stay there for only three days, but Hoi An truly is a unique place, mostly for the custom made clothing! Now, I didn't have any clothes made while I was there but did spend three days there with my "old" friends James and Ami and our new traveling companion Brad, whom James and Ami met on the bus on the way up from Nha Trang, where the legend that is Jim had left our little group and flown back to Bangkok.
In Hoi An I made my first encounter with one of the most wonderful things Vietnam has to offer... Bia Hoi! fresh beer! The best part of fresh beer isn't that it is delivered fresh everyday, but the best part is the price. In Hoi An this wasn't as obvious as Brad and would discover a week or so later in Hanoi where Brad and I discovered bia hoi for 1000 Dong per glass! (1000 dong is about 8 cents). Can you imagine going to a bar and getting a beer for 8 cents! I've done it.
It was quite a warm day so Brad and I were taking a break from our afternoon stroll through the city... I had been at the China airlines office extending my ticket from Bangkok to Honolulu for another six months, and Brad had been doing a little sight seeing when we had randomly bumped into each other. So together we decided to go for a walk to see what there was to see down by the river. After stopping for some frozen yogurt and to sit in what little shade we could find on that dusty curb we looked down the fairly quiet Hanoi road and saw the sign "Bia Hoi 1000 Dong" we couldn't resist. Now this "bar" that Brad and I found, down a side street, near the banks of the Red River about a mile or so from downtown Hanoi was a tin shed where the woman served us our beer out of plastic two liter bottles and served peanuts that had been soaked in water as a snack (not a free snack, we each had two of these soggy, stale, tasteless miniature peanuts and later had to pay 5,000 Dong for this "treat"). I am pretty sure that the bottles that she served the beer from had once held petrol, there aren't many gas pumps in Southeast Asia, but they had been cleaned and the beer was cool, if not actually cold, and very easy to drink. So Brad and I sat in the shad provided by the rusted corrugated tin of this small shed on the side of the road and congratulated our selves on such a wonderful find, cheep beer, and the fact that there where no other "Farang" around, we had gotten off the backpackers ant trail and were doing something different.
Ok, it wasn't exactly a celebration, but we were feeling pretty good about life and having a great time. After we finished our first round, the four Vietnamese men who were also enjoying life and had greeted us with smiles and raised glasses when we sat down and ordered finally initiated conversation with us. First "Mot Hai Ba YO!" literally one two three YO! DRINK. Then they started with the questions. What your name? where you come from? and all the same questions that locals (who have enough confidence in the English) ask the farang whenever they come into contact. After a few minutes of friendly of mostly unintelligible conversation, and a couple more rounds of bia hoi, one of men, the one with his shirt off, turns to Brad... "Fuck you! ...(short pause) 6 o'clock ...(longer pause, as if realizing he already has plans at 6) no 7 o'clock".
Everywhere I go I always seem to find the gay bar.

side note, the Vietnamese "Dong" is by far one of my favorite forms of currency
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photo by: mario26