11 month anniversary

Intake 32 (Hanoi-reps) reunion dinner after 11months in-country

Pan control

I remember when I used to just come here as a tourist, every two-three years or so, and between each visit I would be somewhere, and a random smell would  just giddily remind me of Vietnam. Be it marinated pork grilling over fresh coals, pungent fish sauce, seafood grilling, motorbike petrol fumes, garbage, urban rivers (read: open sewers), or just simply put, the distinct combination of all these smells together plus more. Supercharged of course, by humid, tropical weather.  Whatever it was, I absolutely loved it.

Unfortunately, after nearly a year living here, for better or worse, those smells have just normalized for me. They don’t me giddy no more. Grilled pork is just…..kinda normal now. Motorbike petrol fumes no longer excite me. Instead they jsut remind me that with every breath I take on my bike, I’m losing fragments of my lungs. Hell, I’ve learnt to take deep breaths as I approach any garbage truck or river, so as to avoid having to smell pure, unadulterated shit as I drive past.

I do look forward to the day those nostalgic feelings eventually return. Even if it does unfortunately, coincide with my leaving the country.

Anyways, I digress massively based on a random thought I had whilst riding home this afternoon.

Let’s move on to what you all came here for. A photo array.

Today’s photo set focuses upon reaffirming to my legion of female fans, that in addition to all my other desirable traits, I’m also concerningly good in the kitchen.

A fortnight or so ago, my boy Maxxie came to me begging if I’d cater a small dinner party with my highly-lauded version of Banh Xeo (Vietnamese savoury crepes). Being a true gentleman, I of course obliged, and after awarding house-mate Eddy the honor of serving under me as sous chef, we did a 9am run to the local market, grabbed all the ingredients for about $10, and cooked up a storm for about 8 kids.

Unfortunately, as is the nature of cooking Banh Xeo (continuous), I didn’t get to really taste my product. No matter though. As the satisfied smiles of my guests was enough to satiate me that evening.

Photos!

Look at the bag control on that batter-bag. You can’t teach that shit.

Never let a Malaysian control the chilli allotment for fish sauce. 

Authoritative knife control.

Look at that wrist-control on the pan. Sensual.

Myself, Joyous and Maxxie

Hoai-Anh. Resident frenchie-vietnamese.

Mad friends bro

Raks looking over some Bun Cha

Raks shows off the hickey I gifted her

The girls on the ground floor of Cho Hom. Hanoi’s overwhelming fabric market.

Cong Caphe – communist themed cafe. Hanoi trendy-ite hangout. A local favourite.

Some girl friends at a local Bia Hoi

Fast and Furious

Some local youths waiting for the street racers to fly by. Two am Saturday night, north of Hoan Kiem lake.

A long weekend fare-ly-welly

A couple of weekends ago, here in Vietnam, we had a long weekend thanks to National Day, a day set aside to mark the day North Vietnam declared independence from the French.

Anyways, the weekend coincided with the departure from Hanoi of a close mate – Naomi. Her year in Hanoi was up, and she was returning home, but not without a weekend of long days and evenings knocking off some of her Hanoi bucket list. One of those things on her list was to spend an afternoon riding around taking some happy snaps of Hanoi’s best memories. Unfortunately, lighting on the afternoon we headed out wasn’t too crash hot, so the shots suffered a bit. But, the good thing about Hanoi, and perhaps Vietnam, is that as it’s just so damn busy all the time, that there are great shots to be had any-time-of-the-day. I’ll keep the word count low now, and instead just throw out some photos below with the aid of captions this time round. Note, Nomes took the majority of these as I was busy chauffeuring her around.

My shooting buddy for the afternoon – Nomey


Us catching the attention of a stud at a set of lights

This scene is seriously not at all rare in Hanoi.

A local fishes with a long bamboo rod and Shimano reel in West Lake

Me sitting a top 125cc of raw sex appeal

Parking under lights

Badminton besties at Lenin Park

The lads using bricks for goals down at the park

Luke and Hils waiting for some Banh Xeo and Bun Thit Nuong at the local South-Vietnamese eatery

BFFFFFFFs


Unfortunately, you kind of get desensitized to these sort of images after a while

Taking a very rare walk to dinner 

Drinks at the amazing Metropole to farewell Nomes

Hanoi Hanoi

So. Bit of a lull in my traveling for the time being. Trying to save some pennies for 2013 and beyond so I am just camping out in Hanoi these days. It does however, give me the chance to enjoy the city, explore a few new food options which have caught my eye as of late, and host a few people passing through town.

Last night Eddy had a friend visiting from back home, so I thought I’d tag along and introduce the girls to a favourite pastime of mine in Hanoi.

Taking photos of infants at parks.

And specifically, the amazingly crowded, and haphazard parks of Hanoi full of adorable Asian infants (the best kind of infant).

Last night we visited Ly Thai To square on the edge of Hoan Kiem lake. Everyone who has been to Hanoi should be familiar with it, as it’s dedicated to everyones favorite 10th century Vietnamese emperor.

Kids were roller-blading, break dancing, skating, cycling, hacky-sacking and beating each other up everywhere you looked.  Always good fun despite it being stupidly humid last night. Photos!

This last photo is unrelated. It’s just a few of us at Katos place for her famous home-made paellaaaaa.

One night in Saigon

So, after my trip back home for the wedding in early August, I flew back into Saigon on the way home to Hanoi. I burnt a few days down there, catching up with some friends and family, whilst I waited for one of my soulmates from home – Rosa – and her sister and boyfriend, Noelle and Ed, to fly into Saigon for a quick week in Vietnam. Unfortunately, I was only able to spend a night with them, as I had to be back in Hanoi for a conference. Nonetheless, it was great fun getting to show them around one of my favourite cities.

On the cards for that day and night was of course my usual 24-hr itinerary in Saigon – grilled seafood, street beers, rooftop cocktails, lunchtime banh xeo and afternoon tea of grilled meats. Mix in there somewhere – giving the ladies their first exhilarating motorbike experience in Vietnam, and that pretty much sums up a really enjoyable day and night.

Unfortunately, the kids never made it up to Hanoi, so I couldn’t show them another city which I’ve really taken a shining to after breaking through all my hereditary -based bias against this part of the country. Oh well, next time ey Rosie?

Holes and Kai-Tak

At the end of my street, there is what I will refer to as an eletrical grate. From time to time, this grate for reasons unbeknown to me – collapses in on itself. Now without adequate council-assistance, the good citizens of my area, band together to make an impromptu warning that there is a massive hole in the ground ahead. This behaviour isn’t too uncommon in Hanoi from experience.

Last time it was pretty entertainingly flagposted by way of a big plywood board stuck into the hole, about my height, with a stickfigure man drawn on with permanent marker with a sad face. Unfortunately I didn’t get a happy snap of that.

Fortunately though, this time I managed to get a shot for you all the morning after I nearly sped straight into it whilst trying to avoid getting thrown off my bike by the after-effects of typhoon Kai-tak. Unfortunately by the time I got out there in the morning, someone had removed the bright red laundry detergent bag that had been hung on the branch. But oh well, you get the idea.

p.s. if you’ve ever been to Hanoi, check out this photo that the Our Man in Hanoi blog dug up of Hoan Kiem from the afternoon of Kai-tak.