Cultural Learnings of Hanoi For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Malaysia

Finally, I’m writing the last piece of my Hanoi travelogue.

You had me at ‘Bao Dong’

Kinda strange I made a 4-day trip seems like 4 months on my blog.
On the first day of our visit, we thought about hiring a bicycle (US$1.50 / RM5) to help us get around.

Looking at how crazy the way people drive in Hanoi, I didn’t think it was a good idea. But we went ahead with it anyway.
The problem is, it is difficult not to love Hanoi.

Cone hats are back in fashion

There is not a single McDonalds or 7-Elevens in sight, but that’s a good thing. Highrise buildings are also non-existent here.
While KL, Singapore and Jakarta are competing to become the next New York City, Hanoi sets itself apart with a graceful touch of old town charm normally lost in big cities.

Aunties with necks stronger than your momma

We based ourselves at the Old Quarters, which is a great place to watch the city burst into life and activity. The soundtrack to Old Quarters is a never-ending music of the clanking of metals, the buzzing of chainsaws and the honking of cars. The 800-years-old marketplace is a step back in time and a great place to soak up the atmosphere here.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the map, the French Quarters is the closest thing you can get to Paris.

As we sit in a quiet cafe on the side of a tree-lined boulevard, sometimes we forget we’re even in Asia.
The car drivers here are almost as bad as the ones I met in Shanghai.

They honk like their hands are like surgically attached to the car honk. Seriously, every small thing they also wanna honk.
Got cars in front, they honk. Got cars behind, they honk. In the middle of the night when there’s absolutely no cars around, they also honk!
Vietnamese street food is truly one of a kind.

Hallo? Lu Oo Pho Bo?

Most other places would be happy to provide you with at least some decent tables and chairs for you to eat at.
Not in Vietnam.

Over here, street vendors seem content providing with you tables and chairs that are SO RIDICULOUSLY SMALL, they look like they bought them from a toy shop.
I don’t know what they’re thinking. But they must’ve thought our asses stopped growing since kindergarten.

Yet, despite having to sit on freaking small toy chairs, a lot of locals seem to enjoy crowding at this particular joint.
And you know what they say. If the locals love it, it must be good.

Turned out I wasn’t wrong.
For just 10,000 dongs (RM2), the nice lady cut up the meat on the spot and I got a nice big bowl of classic Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) to feed my hungry stomach.
It may not look like the cleanest most hygenic eatery, but the food here is to die for.
Ok… maybe not. Because it’s not worth losing your life over a bowl of RM2 noodles.

I love it. After growing up loving Vietnamese food for so long, I finally get to sample the real deal.
If you feel like drinking a bit of alco, they even serve cheap Hanoi Vodka. It’s perfectly alright to drink freaking vodka for breakfast in Vietnam.
I totally enjoyed the streetside food experience. The only problem I had was still their tiny chairs.
I know I’m supposed to semi-squat and eat with my legs wide open and balls hanging out.

But I am so fat, I couldn’t even bend me knees!
Lonely Planet has been my favourite travel bible for many years, but I learnt the hard way not to rely on it too much. The information in there can be so terribly out of date.

We were looking for this delicious-sounding cafe called Chocolat & Baugette located at 11 Cha Ca Street.
After searching high and low, we stumbled across this sign inconspicuously hanging where the cafe is supposed to be.

“This is 11 Cha Ca Street. But Hoa Sua Cake Coffee Restaurant was closed. It hasn’t opened yet. Pleased do not ask us about them anymore.
(I added the last part in.)

This is Nicole, using my laptop to update her blog at 5am in the morning.

Yes. I know what you’re thinking.
I think I can see the title poster for the next B-Grade Korean horror movie already.

Coming soon to a cinema near you.
This is ka fay sua da, otherwise known as Vietnamese iced coffee.

When I took a sip at this drink for the first time, my eyes widened, my arsehole tightened and I was bouncing off the walls. That was the strongest iced coffee I’ve had!

All they gave us was a glass of condensed milk with a weird contraption on top. All it contained was ground coffee and a dose of hot water. But what passed through the filter, dripping into the glass below was ounces of pure coffee heaven.
It’s the Asian version of espresso, it’s so rich with caffeine kick and it’s cheap as hell.

Someone has gotta import this thing here.
We may have spent 4 days in Vietnam, but when we returned, the only Vietnamese word we could speak was ka fay sua da!
The water puppet show is a waste of time.

It’s cool and all that, but when the narration is all in Vietnamese, what’s the point?
Not like there’s a button that we can press like in DVDs to get the English subtitles.
This is me posing in front of the legendary Nguc Son temple on Hoan Kiem Lake.

This is me looking like a dork and picking up my bicycle after it fell over.

What’s worse, my bike fell over some joss sticks an old auntie left there for Hungry Ghost Month.
Sorry ghosts!
One restaurant that’s definitely worth visiting in Hanoi is Restaurant Bobby Chinn’s, the baby of that World Cafe Asia host from Discovery Travel and Living.

If not for the orgasmically juicy good food, then at least for the quirky and ingeniously worded menu.
It’s not cheap though. The two of us managed to rack up a bill of US$40 each, which is alright for a once-in-a-while indulgence.

But it was worth it because this is one of the best fine-dining restaurants I had dined in in a long time. My appetiser, the Tropical Seafood Ceviche, has the kind of magic that bursts flavours in your mouth.

Of course, it’s only befitting that my food is served in a coconut as a tribute to the size of my testicles.
Disaster struck when we left Bobby Chinn’s.

Nicole wearing a pink ao dai (US$10 / RM35 only)

Vietnamese people drive without a care in the world. Road rules are for decoration and zebra crossings are nothing but graffiti on the road. There are tens of other people fitting into the same lane as you. The unspoken rule is that you just cycle slowly, stay on course and others will avoid you.
That doesn’t always work, especially when you’re trying to cross a busy intersection where bicycles, motorcycles and cars all zoom past you so close you can feel them against your knees. In a situation like this, the last thing you wanna do is PANIC.
Which is of course exactly what I did.

A motorcycle overtook me from behind. In the heat of the moment, I lost my balance, collided into him, fell onto the ground as a car whizzed by me, narrowly missing my head and turning me into a bloody pulp.
I survived (of course), suffering injuries no worse than a sprained wrist and a bruised kneecap.

But as they say, “once bitten twice shy”.
The followed day I decided to play on the safe side and cycled as slowly and as carefully as I could

Screw it, I’m walking instead.

I bet you RM1,000 that Dr Sheikh Muszaphar, Malaysia’s first astronaut space passenger, will become a Datuk when he returns from space and begin endorsing stupid products from soaps to yoghurt drinks to massage chairs.
I tell ya, he’s gonna become the next Mawi.

134 Replies to “Cultural Learnings of Hanoi For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Malaysia”

  1. I like the movie poster that you did. Wonder if the Korean wordings bring the similar meaning to what you have wrote or not.
    Anyway, how many more posts are you going to write on this trip? 🙂
    Oh, and 早安 to everyone.

  2. That wasn’t phở bò that you had but must be some kind of rice noodle usually start with the word Bún just from the look of the noodle thread and the green vegetable on top of it 😀
    Nicole looks like a traditional Vietnamese woman in that Áo dài. 😀

  3. so early in the morning eh?… i would add another Rm100 on your bet…nice post, u even bring lap top with u during travelling!!!! salute! how’s your injury? have u finally found a good sifu?

  4. Good Morning… I have tasted the Vietnamese iced coffee before at Kampung Kemaman, Terengganu. It has the same weird contraption on top. It’s really Gooooood!!!

  5. hahah..tats funny la whr Nicole in de so called Horror movie..cun u drop de bicycle on a hungry ghsot offering..jeng2..ur gna get jinxed liaw…

  6. waraoooo.. u only bet rm1k ka?? i bet my firstborn wor!! terrer ley.
    btw, KFC malaysia announced last mth they will open 4 branches in vietnam lor. soon it will be sprouting all over next to the french colonial cafes. 😛

  7. The small stools – same principle as McDonalds’ traditional garish lighting (it’s now a little more chillout). Makes you get the hell away from their shop fast so they can seve more customers..
    Ghoulish Nicole – so kawaii!!!
    You know, the photo of the coconut gives me the impression of, like, your balls having been split open and spilling out all its precious innards.

  8. hmm… i think the korean words isn’t 100% correct
    그녀는 update했을 때까지 자지 않을 것이다.

  9. Geee…. I am so devoted; your site was the first thing I’m looking forward to almost everyday. I’ve got to kill this habit of mine :p Great post!

  10. i think your cyling skill got problem not the car or motor there…. don’t blame people because you don’t know how to cycle

  11. Were the Pho Bo any good? The one I tasted while I was there sucked. And it was suppose to be a famous restaurant.Jalan Alor’s Beef Noodle would kick its arse all the way back into the cow.

  12. Kuakuakuakua… First thing: I’m SOOOO glad the old wickedly hilarious Kenny’s back! Just like how it used to be donkey years back! I can’t stop laughing til now.. XD I heart ur blog~

  13. i do like your blog,but you know sometimes,you just screwed up everything,in the column short talk,why do you have to be like those market’s aunty(mak ipoh) gossiping about our country’s first astronout?what do you gain and what do you achieve by doing so?answer me this if your’re a bloke.anyway,dr.sheikh is not the space passenger or anything,he is an astronout,you dont have to be so pathetic purposely showing that you cut off the word astronout and replace it with space passenger

  14. wah lau so nice blog kenny eh when are you gone to get married and the next mr kenny sia son coming out hehe
    like your blog
    just me jeremiah here

  15. being there in 7th september 07 and stayed in hanoi plaza located in hang non street.
    truely agree with u traffic rules are non existance in hanoi except on paper
    on my way to hao long bay the way the driver overtakes the vehicles can at times make one’s balls shrink
    btw, kenny your face very familar bcoz I think i have seen u as i believe we were on the same tour van to the hao long bay but we parted way bcoz your program is overnight stay in hao long bay whereas my is just day tour only.

  16. wahahhaa… the pic of nicole makes me scare when i go to toilet at midnight.. wahahha but she is qualified to be the main actress in tat movie!!

  17. i’ve been wanting to try the real vietnamese food,just like the beef noodles in the photos.i had similiar food like that and the cold vietnamese dishes in melbourne,some of the restaurant were nice,but still,i’m thinking if how it would taste i can actually taste the original style..=)

  18. damn e astronaut guy is HAWT.
    stop advertising sending malaysians to space it’s so stupid. there’s nothing to be proud of. we din even send dem ourselves. all we did was pay the russians billions and billions of taxpayers money to send some guy to space to make teh tarik and photograph him so we can put him on the news and show how ‘advanced’ malaysia is.
    the most ridiculous thing in the world. stop advertising how stupid this whole space thing is.its embaressing

  19. heyz,
    cool story up there…
    im curious, ill be backpacking to sydney soon,
    do you have any pointers?
    i have this fear that i wont be able to make frens in the hostel …
    moreover, since the hostels are bound to be filled with gwailo’s, wouuld they welcome an asian traveller ??
    thanx !!!

  20. i bet u RM2XXX for that “astronaut” think when he return…. our TV and Radio will being busy boardcasting that “Malaysia Boleh” song again….. dare to take the bet?..

  21. Message to jacko – it’s no problem. Gwailo who backpack do not find it strange to see an Asian in their midst in the hostel. The are very open. Take it from someone who has spent time in a hostel in the Blue Mountains before. As it so happens I am in Sydney, though I was in the hostel on an earlier trip 2 years ago,

  22. wei dun compare dr sheikh with ppl lk MAWI la.degrading him!after all he’s a professional surgeon!n he’s from UKM =) and he has much more substance than that botak :p and he’s gd looking 😀 heh

  23. Nice 1 Kenny….funny entry~!
    Btw, that “thumbi”
    this is a nice blog..if you want to bark ..please leave a msg out side okay??

  24. in hanoi, if you honk, other people are cool bout it cos they see it as a warning sign of traffic.
    unlike malaysia, if you honk, you’ll be expecting to be shown the middle finger. haha

  25. I do have similar thoughts tho. Other than the fact that we paid the Russians to train a perfect pin-up idol to blast off into space, what are we suppose to be proud of about this mission?
    On what basis was Dr Sheikh chosen anyway? His good looks or qualification or the fact that he came from a family of datuk-datin.

  26. I’m also not happy the fact that government used tax money to bring this guy ‘meninggal dunia’ to space. I mean I dun mind if the guy is chinese though, but the bumis won’t be happy about it… sign… what can I say… the rich gets luckier each time… and the poor become the outcast… mind the government that the rate of homeless people are still pretty high, I see people beg for money wherever I go… that’s sad…

  27. I agree with Kenny….This Angkasawan thingy is just a glorified space tourist….I just don’t get it. The leaders brainwash the people as if we managed to manufacture and launch our own spacecraft. For heaven’s sake, we can’t even build a car of world class standards and solve our shite public transport problems and we want to venture into aerospace industry. Another project by the government with absolutely no substance and improvements for the people’s daily life.

  28. HAHA I like your humour sense.
    I am a Korean.
    Your Korean wording wansn’t really correct, it’s supposed to be ‘블로거-그녀는 업데이트할 ë•Œ 까지 자지 않을 것이다’.
    But anyway I like your poster so much. And nice to see Korean from =)

  29. What’s wrong with a Datukship for him?
    So what if there are people who are willing to pay him lots of money to endorse silly stuff?
    Dont tell me Kenny Sia is jealous because he has yet to receive his Datukship although he is the most famous blogger in Malaysia. Dont tell me he is jealous because nobody wants him to be the ambassador for BIG coco-NUTs.
    I would go to the end of the world to get u to be my ambassador of the BIGGEST COCONUT. However, I’ve been told that getting Brad Pitt would be much cheaper!
    Atleast people like our angkasawan deserve it. Compare him with the Close-One-Eye dude or even the dude in Klang with the ugly castle and the illegal satay stall. They dont deserve to be called Datuk. They should be called NYANYUK instead.
    Get it? lol
    All hail King Kenny !

  30. “But I am so fat, I couldn’t even bend me knees”
    Can you stop making me laugh like a hyena in the middle of the night (while i’m reading your entry)?
    And the korean movie just takes the cake..!
    Lots of love from Singapore!

  31. Those are awesome pictures that you took. And, it’s look funny and silly.Heh heh. Anyway, have you ever try “Bun Bo Hue”? It’s noodle with spicy soup, pig’s blood, hand pork, and beef.

  32. @Short Talk
    Yes!~~ Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will become a Datuk! Oh, hate him so much. Have you heard that he’s in an affair with chef ismail? G** la. Huhuhu No wonder he’s not married though he’s 36yo.
    I was sleeping peacefully when the tv played the launching to the space. who cares. waste of govt money. KEJI.

  33. i’m fedup with people saying to the gov to stop wasting their money coz they are paying taxes and so and so… as if ur paying millions la for ur taxes.. if ur just paying a couple hundred ringgit per year, and i know some of u didn’t pay any at all.. u should just shut the hell up.. if the gov provides service according to the amount of taxes ur paying, u guys don’t deserve to get anything at all… so shut the hell up

  34. wah after reading the comments i realise that u actually tried to type in the correct korean for the poster…which translation u use kenny? haha.. next time dun use that coz there’s ppl saying that u’re wrong! *evil laugh*
    p/s: i like ur entry

  35. Wow, Hanoi traffic looks & sounds really scary. Guess Malaysian drivers aren’t so bad afterall. That street side stall has the cutest tables & chairs! Hehe… But the walls look too scary. Look too much like the walls of an old bathroom at old rundown houses haha.. That coffee contraption thing looks scary too. That coconut dish looks great. That Cha Ca Street pic of you is really cute 🙂 And Nicole looks really sweet in her Viet costume. And your posture in the last 2 pics is good hehe.. THANH YOU!!

  36. I dont will be Dr Sheikh only, but Dr Faiz will get the Datukship too…
    And Dr Sheikh might get some honoris causa PhD for some science experiments he did too…

  37. Wow, Hanoi traffic looks & sounds really scary. Guess Malaysian drivers aren’t so bad afterall. That street side stall has the cutest tables & chairs! Hehe… But the walls look too scary. Look too much like the walls of an old bathroom at old rundown houses haha.. That coffee contraption thing looks scary too. That coconut dish looks great. That Cha Ca Street pic of you is really cute 🙂 And Nicole looks really sweet in her Viet costume. And your posture in the last 2 pics is good hehe.. THANK YOU!!

  38. just like to say that vietnamese are very much influenced by the french; a good example is how they adopted the roadside bistro (the low seat drink/food vendors are how they have reinvented it).

  39. Dear Mr Kenny, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar is a model lar. So i think that there will be possibility that he will get endorsement from stupid products from soaps to yogurt drinks to massage chairs.
    dont be jealous! haha

  40. So true. Dr Sheikh Muszaphar is just a space passenger. Leeching like a parasite on the Russian’s space craft to give the illusion that Malaysia is advancing in science and technology. That’s Malaysia for you. Never any real work but Malaysia is still very Make Benefit Gloriuos Nation! Woo! The first Malaysian was sent to space for all the wrong reasons.

  41. Oh man……that movie poster is gonna be a classic… Makes me laugh until peng….
    By the way….Nicole pink ao dai do look nice on her.

  42. I have a suggestion…Urmm why not post the malaysia space passenger as your main blog title? No need to use small talk. I trust a lot of people, including me would love to read your blog on it and comment on it….

  43. mr.kenny,you’re just jealous,you bet you cant ve one of the astronout?partly because you dont even have that qualification,you’re fat,you said you’re a marathon runner,but your body somehow like those sumo wrestler,you dont even dare to reply me,you’re like a market lady,mak ipoh in the other words

  44. thumbi: Wow, it’s just so damn hilarious to see such uneducated people. I mean, you judge someone’s qualification on what they do as a hobby? Super intelligent one ah! Not! *cough* I don’t see Kenny is a professional “marathon runner” *roles eyes* I mean, seriously.
    And basically, you judge someone’s intelligence on their weight? Wow! Hmmm… if Kenny looks like a sumo, I’d hate to see what you look like! And, how can you generalize a ‘market lady’, er, didn’t know there was such a personality clash between everyone and a market lady. Now, just to correct such idiotic commentairé … IT IS SO DAMN FUNNY TO SEE DUMB COMMENTS JUST COZ YOU ARE JEALOUS OF SOMEONES BLOG/BLOG STATUS! Serious, run back to your little blogspot myspace and get over your self!
    And to all those of you who are going on to me about “’s new layout, omfg…”
    You get all bitchy over someone making their layout themed to suit Hari Raya!
    just a layout you know!
    Is this middle ages or something around here? And what makes you guys think you have the right to bitch and harp the hell on about hari raya ah? Hari raya isn’t even a holiday sia! It’s the fricking malay translation of muslim period! And you call your selves originalé? honessssly!!!!
    1. To all you Chinese/Malay/Bahasa hari raya activists, get over your self!!! Stop going on about “respeeect” bla bla bla, look, there is honesly no need to get all teacher about the respect of hari raya, when actually, it’s not even originally your holiday, that’s unless your family is middle eastern *rolls eyes*
    2. Isn’t it interesting that someone who isn’t even a muslim is prepared to show off some part of a national culture minority? *winks at kenny*
    It’s cosmopolitan.
    anyway,. enough said.
    Get over your selves.

  45. p.s I mean, maybe no one around here is intelligent enough to take in what I said… but don’t you think it’s a bit idiotic to ramble on about something which is originally an arab middle eastern muslimah holiday, when really you have just adapted your belief system? Yah, okay if your Dad or whatever is middle eastern, that’s different… but I got emails from CHINESE and MALAY muslims going on about kennysia fricking layout!!! SHUT! UP! all of you! honestly!!!! Sorry for the over elaboration, just de-fuming … so many of you silly wanabes! just live with it, it’s just a layout!

  46. damn funny post kenny…
    as for Dakota.. get your facts right before commenting on ppl’s festive celebration. middle eastern only? hmmm? suddenly you sound “stupid”, sometimes it good not to say anything if you don’t know what Hari Raya is. Its ok if you don’t know.. but don’t go rambling on.. and making other readers confuse. sheeshh..

  47. DAKOTA: Typical. Mustn’t be so closed minded. Thats why Malaysians are still categorized as ‘3rd World Country’ citizens although we’re clearly not =)

  48. hey… i mus say dat u r very brave to even attempt cycling in hanoi!..
    i jus came back from hanoi today …
    omg!!…the traffic is jus horrible…and the honking neva ends!…
    even when i’m in the car i was so terified already…

  49. dangerous… sg road is still safest. i dun dare to cross the road in taiwan either.
    glad you are fine. keep it up. great blog.
    warm regards,
    angel za

  50. why is dakota so worked up as if hari raya is a middle eastern-exclusive celebration? no need for pretention here.
    as long as you’re a muslim and you fasted during ramadhan then you’re entitled to celebrate your accomplishment. and non-muslims wish muslims hari raya because (this may be cheesy) our strength comes when we celebrate our differences.
    dakota, YOU mustn’t be so close-minded *tch tch*

  51. Kenny, why squat on a small stool when you could just as easily squat without it and at least your balls can rest and relax nicely on the ground rather than hanging down just above the ground and suffered the strain. I like the way you ‘carried cycle ride’. It keeps you fit and cut down the carbon footprint. How kind of you to think of saving the energy and protect the environment. By the way Nicole appeared dignified with the way she rode the bicycle and the elegant picture of her in that lovely dress. Keep up the good work!

  52. hey there. Just want to let you know.. they usually have that sort of vietnamese coffee back home.. the thing is u need to specifically ask for it (ie: neh, the coffee drip into the cup one?). Just sharing. Cheers!

  53. Is Christmas a Malaysian holidays? I bet the Chinese will be the one who will go overboard in celebrating it. And oh btw, CNY is a holiday for Chinese nationalities.

  54. Nice Blog!!! Yah, I live in Hanoi and the traffic is getting more hectic everyday. You did the traps and got the most out of it. Glad you liked it! Keep on … “walking instead” … LOL!
    Jeff in Hanoi

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