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I've spent many years in Vietnam, both as a traveller and for work, and it remains one of my favourite countries.

I hope, with photos, anecdotes and travel blogs to inspire you to visit someday and experience all the beauty Vietnam has to offer.


Living in the East End 

By western standards, there are certain questions that just aren’t to be asked.
Subjects such as your age, marital status, income, even weight are considered taboo and should remain personal. The Vietnamese, however, have no such qualms. Expect to be asked to divulge such information and don’t be surprised by their reactions.

For example, in Asia, being overweight is often seen as a sign of good health or affluence.

Meeting a stranger in the street, one is immediately quizzed:
‘Wher yuh fro’

‘How lon yuh stay Vietnam’

‘Are yuh single’

‘Why yuh single?’

They find it incomprehensible that I’m not married at 39. 

I usually flash a wry smile and tell them it’s a secret.

Of course, now one is fair game. As I sauntered down the stairs to reception this morning, resplendent in my new whistle, the young girl manning the phone sits up,  smiles her widest smile and says,

‘You look really handsome Mr Pete, very fat…..’ 

Edited by orientexcess
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Bia Hoi

Bia Hoi is a local beer. It translates as ‘fresh beer’ which is true as it contains no preservatives and must be drunk straight away. It is currently priced at 3000d which is around 12p.

The young girl who had served me, why she couldn’t have been more than 13, sat cross legged on a tired plastic stool and gnawed shamelessly on a boiled chicken foot.

Her pot black hair was tied tightly into a bun on the back of her head and secured with a black bic biro. I shared a table with three other jolly customers who would sup and smoke strong cigarettes in turn. They delighted in inhaling deeply then allowing the heavy noxious fumes to escape from their nostrils and into mine. The air became thick with stale tobacco smoke and spent sulphur matches.

I nodded to a pallid youth who wore his T shirt somewhere around breast height that I would like another drink and he took the half inch garden hose into his mouth, sucked for all his worth, and siphoned the brew into a frosty glazed glass. Spilt beer ran across the cracked cobbled pavement and trickled gently into the drains.

 An old receipt book entry was pinned to my table and the amount of Bia consumed was entered tally fashion until I left. An older lady in white and yellow striped pyjamas offered freshly cut pineapple to us patrons and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Her produce was suspended from a wooden yoke that bowed greatly from the weight and must have damaged her diminutive frame.

I had seen pallid youth filling a number of empty 2 litre coke bottles and wondered why. I now realise that car drivers and scooter riders alike are the valued owners of said bottles and are shrewdly buying a ‘take out’ for the evening ahead.

Bia Hoi to go, as it were!




Edited by orientexcess
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16 hours ago, orientexcess said:

Bia Hoi is a local beer. It translates as ‘fresh beer’ which is true as it contains no preservatives and must be drunk straight away. It is currently priced at 3000d which is around 12p.

Amazing price for beer there! Is that in Hanoi @orientexcess

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