First Weekend in Hanoi – part 2

The day started out rather badly – I had to get up. For the first time in Hanoi I was really desperate for another two hours of sleep, minimum. But the other day I had agreed to come to the private home of the chef of the Hungarian Embassy for a “Nem” session. At 9.30 am! How could I have possibly agreed on such a time for cooking and eating?! Well, sometimes one tends to forget the consequences of promises light-mindedly given when carried away by having a good time…but yours truly never backs out.

Therefore, Vietnamese breakfast at 8 am to get the chillies and the caffeine into the system, beauty arrangements later. The latter took longer than anticipated (fortunately that has not turned into a trend yet) and I left the Hanoi Fawlty Towers a little late. At the last moment I remembered to take the box of my favourite Swiss chocolates (that I had acquired for myself in Germany to console myself in difficult moments on my trip) to have a respectable present.

Despite my clear suggestions the manager on duty called me a taxi (most likely from a friend’s company) that charged 50% more than the “good” cabs. But I found this out only once I was already inside the car and the driver speeded away and turned on the meter…

The taxi took me to a bustling living quarter in the North on Huynh Thuc Khang street. Very lively, the main street and many of the small side streets lined with cafés, restaurants and small food stalls and (already at this early hour of the day) lots of predominantly young people. Haven’t come across such a thing in Europe yet.

The only small problem was that, erring around,  I could not find the exact address – which most likely nobody had expected from such a clumsy long-nose anyway. Because when I called the host on her mobile to confess my incompetence she was down on the street in no time to greet me and lead me to (what I believe) is a typical standard Hanoi apartment.

This is the living area with, clockwise, storage, entertainment centre, freezer, office, guest bed and sleeping zone…the mat in front of the bed represents the dining area…

Here the kitchen – with all utensils to create some amazing dishes (while most of the Europeans can’t cook anything reasonable despite being equipped with all the hightech gear deemed necessary to create something edible from pre-processed food). Not to forget the laundry facility under the sink and the Bulgarian style bathroom (spotlessly clean!)  to the left. Some stuff already prepared for the nems.

When all preparations were finished and the “Nems” finally frying away  (and the chatting still in full swing) the better of three hours had passed! And we were well into the third freshly pressed fruit juice. This gave me the opportunity for a few snapshots of some typical modern Hanoi backyards

Suffice it to say that the “Nem”s were phenomenal, the thin sauce perfectly balanced, all the greens very tangy, the beer with the right temperature and the company entertaining and enlightening.

A marvellous day that brought me new insights into the Vietnamese way of thinking and perceiving things. Lucky me!

To finish the day off I had a stroll through the area and a pop at some “Bia Hoi” at one of the local beer halls…

…before the final “Pho” soup of the day!

This was the best Pho I have had so far in Hanoi. A contender for a top tier place in the range of Asian (but not so authentic) soups I create myself. The locals, however, looked at me incredulously when I started adding chillies to the concoction (what you see was only the first badge :)) Few Vietnamese would go for that heat 🙂

The taxi ride back home was relaxing (we managed to avoid a good dozen of near-miss accidents).

Now I have to retire as I need to catch up on some sleep and it’s 12:30 am here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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