Bia Hoi in Vietnam – Hoi An, Hanoi, Asia
Fresh Beer in Hoi An
I was in a charming little town in Vietnam called Hoi An – a unique place, mostly for the custom made clothing! I didn't have any clothes made while I was there, but I did spend three days with my "old" friends, James and Ami, and our new traveling companion, Brad, whom James and Ami met on the bus on the way up from Nha Trang, where the legend that is Jim had left our little group and flown back to Bangkok.
In Hoi An, I was introduced to one of the most wonderful things Vietnam has to offer – bia hoi, fresh beer! The best part of fresh beer isn't that it is delivered fresh everyday, it's the price. A week later in Hanoi, Brad and I found bia hoi for 1,000 dong per glass (1,000 is about eight cents)!
A Week Later
The day was warm, Brad and I were taking a break from our afternoon stroll through the city. I had been at the China Airlines office extending my ticket from Bangkok to Honolulu for another six months. Brad had been doing a little sightseeing when we had randomly bumped into each other. We decided to walk down by the river. After stopping for some frozen yogurt, sitting in what little shade we could find on the dusty curb, we looked down the fairly quiet Hanoi Road and saw the sign "Bia Hoi, 1000 Dong". We couldn't resist.
Tin Shed Bar
This "bar" that Brad and I found, down a side street, near the banks of the Red River, about a mile from downtown Hanoi, was a tin shed. The woman served us our beer out of plastic two-liter bottles with peanuts that had been soaked in water (5,000 dong for this "treat"). I am pretty sure the bottles she served the beer from had once held petrol, not many gas pumps in Southeast Asia, but they were clean and the beer was actually cold, easy to drink. Brad and I sat in the shade provided by the rusted corrugated tin of this small shed on the side of the road and congratulated ourselves on our find. We were having cheap beer and there were no other farangs, foreigners, around. We had gotten off the backpacker ant trail and were doing something different.
It wasn't exactly a celebration, but we were feeling good about life and having a great time. After we finished our first round, four Vietnamese men who were also enjoying life, greeted us with smiles and raised glasses when we sat down and ordered. They initiated the conversation with Mot Hai Ba YO, one two three YO! DRINK. Then they started with – What your name, where you come from – the same questions locals (who have enough confidence in English) ask farangs. After a few minutes of friendly, mostly unintelligible exchange and a couple more rounds of bia hoi, one of the men, the one with his shirt off, turned to Brad and said "F— you." Everywhere I go, I seem to find the gay bar.