Tuesday, January 16, 2018

48 hours in Hanoi - what we did and how we did it

Full disclosure. I went to visit fabulous friends who organised everything....this is their amazingly curated weekend of fun and food.

First stop is fish at Cha Ca Thanh Long - it's the only dish they make. A great dish of turmeric fish that you mix with noodes, fish sauce and fresh coriander and dill. 

After dinner, pull up a stool and grab some sweet soup dessert at ‘Chè 4 Mua’ or 4 Seasons Chè. Amazing warm dumplings and a mix of things I'm not even going to try and describe - but the perfect balance and judging by the crowds THE place in Hanoi old town to stop for dessert. Watch the Friday night traffic flow by an arm reach away and get your sugar high.

Hoan Kiem Lake on a Friday night through to the weekend is where you want to go to walk off that dinner. Such a mix of activities - from karaoke to ballroom dancing. Balloons and kids riding mini cars. Dog walkers and jenga players. Nothing like it.








Saturday morning start the day with Phở at Ly Quoc Su. Northern Phở doesn't have all the add on herbs that the southern folk use. That's because the broth is cooked to perfection. Doesn't need anything else except a dash of chilli sauce. So good I ate there twice.

What next? Back to the outer edge of the old town to visit the Womens Museum. Fascinating permanent exhibition about women in Vietnam. Particular focus on the war and the contribution to the resistance. Put this to the top of your museum list and celebrate grrl power.

You'll need to work up the appetite before lunch , so spend some time meandering around the old town. It really is delightful and a mix of beautiful buildings and day to day comings and goings. Stop for Banh Mi at Banh Mi 25. Best Banh Mi in Hanoi (though I did only try two places...). Save space for a popsicle too!

More walking means more sustenance required. Have you heard of coconut coffee? It's a thing! And it is really quite phenomenal (read: total convert). Go grab one at Cong Caphe at the branch near the cathedral. If you are lucky enough to jag an outdoor seat, stay there for the rest of your life.

One more stop before the day is done. Head to the railyway tracks and in particular look up Zo Project for beautiful handmade paper products.

After all that street food, if you feel like something fancy, head to Cau Go Restaurant overlooking Hoan Kiem lake. Great vietnamese street food in a fancy setting.










What to do on Sunday? Grab a taxi to the start of Long Bien Bridge and take a wander. Designed by Le Corbusier Gustave Eiffel, this bridge is a beauty and you get the added bonus of a sneak peak into rural Vietnam. 

After all that walking, lunch is in order. Make sure you try Bun Cha. We had ours at Bun Cha 34 on Hang Than, near Truc Bac Lake. Good luck finding it, but try - it is the best Bun Cha around (noting it is the only Bun Cha I had). What's Bun Cha you ask? All the good pork bits mixed with fresh noodles and dipped in a light fish sauce with herbs.

Walk that off by exploring the West Lake and eating all the freshly made sweet snacks. Near the West Lake are lots of government buildings. Worth walking down the grand boulevards and if you are there at the right time - check out the flag ceremony.

Are you exhausted reading all of that? Or just hungry? My takeout from this mini break: Hanoi is the place to eat, so make sure you plan your trip to pace your meals.









Friday, January 12, 2018

36 hours in Bangkok - what I did and how I did it

Basically I just did what Will and Christine told me to do. 

I stayed at Cabochon Hotel (Sukhumvit Soi 45) where the vibe was old style colonial mansion...mainly because the hotel was housed inside one. Great restaurant and solid cocktails. They made my basil, lemon, pineapple and gin cocktail to measure (not sweet) consistently every time (great dirty martini too!).

I whiled the day walking around Thonglor. Coffee at Ink and Lion, which is excellent and a great gallery space too followed by lots of window shopping. I then lunched at Supanniga Eating Room and browsed vinyl at Bungkumhouse Records and then grabbed a sneaky cocktail at Quince. 

All in all, relaxing day and a bit, having allowed myself the freedom to not do anything remotely touristy with one main goal: to eat Pad Thai. Completed that goal within the first 90 minutes of landing (there was a really really long taxi queue ok?)