Friday, December 16, 2005

Beer and Bar Snacks

Our sons, Simon and Matthew arrived here 2 days ago for a month long visit. Today, after an enjoyable afternoon wandering around Van Mieu (Temple of Literature) we dropped into a Czech beer restaurant that we had noticed just last week. We should have realised that this was something special when the waiter sought clarification that we really did want to order 4 large glasses of beer. Check these out - 1 litre glasses that almost require 2 hands to lift them!

As we sipped our way through the beer, and broused our way through the menu, we noticed some of the special delicacies on offer - fried scorpions, crickets and grasshoppers. At the same time the staff began preparing some scorpions - we just had to try them! A little apprehensive at first, and seeking an assurance that you could safely eat the stinger, we set to and found them to be really very tasty.


So we had to follow these up with crickets which are also very nice. Unfortunately they didn't have any grasshoppers today - we'll have to return for these some other day.

Value for money!
Yellow beer, 1 litre 38,000VND
Fried scorpions 7,000VND each
Fried Crickets 5,000VND each

Restaurant Bohemia
47 Quoc Tu Giam

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Jazz Icons Perform in Ha Noi

Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter & Nnenna Freelon

Tonight we enjoyed the very best of international Jazz right here in Ha Noi.
Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter & Nnenna Freelon, with 8 talented young musicians from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, performed at the intimate Tuoi Tre Theatre here in Ha Noi. We were fortunate to obtain the very last "invitation only" tickets from the US Embassy. And it was all free! The US Embassy in Vietnam, sponsored the tour by these outstanding Jazz icons as part of their commemoration of the 10th anniversary of normalised U.S. - Vietnam relations.
The music was outstanding! We consider ourselves very fortunate to have seen such great exponents of the art of Jazz performing here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Teachers Day

November 2oth is Teachers Day in Vietnam. It is traditional for students to give their teachers small gifts or flowers. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of some of our students.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ba Vi National Park

Ba Vi National Park is about 50 kilometers west of Ha Noi. After leaving Ha Noi, the road to Son Tay is undergoing a long overdue reconstruction, making for a rough and dusty ride on our little Honda Wave.

But it is well worth the ride to finally escape the noise, heat and dust of Ha Noi.

In the middle of a plain rarely exceeding 30 metres in elevation stands Ba Vi mountain, a three-humped peak that rises steeply out of the surrounding plain. The three summits are Vua, the tallest at 1,296 metres, Tan Vien 1,227m and Ngoc Hoa 1,131m. Because of the mountainous topography, the climate at Ba Vi varies with altitude and fog enshrouds the peak's upper slopes on most days.

As we enter the park we enjoy the fresh air, and as we ascend the mountain the air cools and we enter into the clouds, taking in the smell of the damp forest.

We finally walk to the summit of Tan Vien, where there stands a shrine built in the 11th century to commemorate the Mountain God. Even today Vietnamese still make the pilgrimage to this sacred place. Surprisingly this group of old people asked for us to take their photos.

And then as we ride back down the mountain we take in the views of the surrounding landscape. And then sadly for us it's back to the bustle of Ha Noi - but what a great day out!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Roast Potatoes - Eat Your Heart Out!

With winter approaching, and a yearning for good old roast potatoes, we purchased a small oven for 890,000VND (US$56). Sticky Rice may blog the best food in Hanoi, but the authors can't bake their own potatoes - eat your heart out!
(was this worth waiting for?)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Oops... didn't think of that!

Celebrating the 995th anniversary of the ancient citadel Thang Long, ordered to be built by King Ly Thai Tho, and situated in what is now considered Ha Noi, the week-long festivities ended with Dragon Dance festivals at Hoan Kiem and Truc Bach lakes. We joined friends at Truc Bach where we ate fresh spring rolls, drank a few beers (with ice, of course) and enjoyed the entertainment.

There were floating candles in the lake, hot air balloons in the sky, and for the finale, a large dragon, suspended by 4 large balloons, raised above the lake. And then of course, there were fireworks.

Unfortunately nobody thought about the consequences of firing skyrockets directly at hydrogen-filled balloons! The accuracy of the projectiles were superb, and the resultant fireballs from the balloons was quite spectacular, but alas the dragon could not remain aloft without the support of those balloons. We only hope that a fallen dragon doesn't bring bad luck

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Birthday celebrations

Today was Gaylene’s birthday. Originally she had planned to meet a small group of friends for lunch, after which they would have Ao Dai fittings in preparation for Kate’s wedding celebrations. But the numbers rapidly expanded when news got out that it was Gaylene’s birthday. So, thirteen of us went for lunch at Au Lac House, a very nice Vietnamese restaurant located in a wonderful old French colonial house.

Unfortunately some people had to leave before the "official photograph" - sometimes work, which is what we do to support our lifestyles here, gets in the way of our social lives!
Many thanks to all who came, and to those bearing gifts and flowers. And a special thanks to Kate for organising the venue and awesome cake.

....and they never did to get to the Ao Dai fitting.

For more details about the food at Au Lac House, check out Kate and Mark's "must read" Sticky Rice food blog.