Published: June 5th 2009June 5th 2009
Houses are meant to live in and not to look on
I must apologize for the lack of posts recently. After I left the hotel it has been a jumbled mess of action and I hadn't found time to locate an internet cafe until now, 10:00 a.m. on Friday. My professor got here two days ago and we hopped a taxi over to our new home. The new place is right near another lake, Ho Truc Bach which is quite larger. Also, it was either this lake or the one right next to it that John McCain found himself in after being shot down, so that is neat. Our house is down a little alleyway and located inside a larger structure. There are three floors but each floor is about a 10 by 12 foot space. I've got the penthouse sweet on top but there is no a/c throughout the house. I haven't had any trouble sleeping but the professor has said he has seen rats and lizards at night scurrying around. The place was unfurnished but for 150$ for a month I'm not complaining. We picked up some foam mattresses and also bought cell phones. I got the old nokia brick style (with snake, zang!) The first night in our place we headed out around 7 and found a little street corner that was selling Hanoi draft beer for 3,000 dong, which comes to about 17 cents. The beer was terrible and the peanuts they gave us were boiled not roasted. Boiled peanuts are no where near as delicious. They have a sort of slimy inside. We also saw people ordering 'something' wrapped up in banana leaves so we decided to try it out. After unraveling this thing for about a minute all that remained was a little red sausage looking thing. But I don't think it was the good kind of sausage. We each tried a piece and decided never to do that again (we're thinking it was dog).
The next day we headed over to the Institute of Culture and Art Studies. I met some very nice people who were friends of Professor Pack. We also got to meet the head honcho guy named Dr. Ben who was the leader of the ministry of culture, sport and tourism. He also happened to be one of the higher ranking communist leaders around. We had a nice chat and then we were taken out to eat at a Legend's Brewery House. This place was amazing. It mimicked a German beer house and the food was out of this world. We all got this black beer that was extraordinary followed by two large salads. Before the salads were gone six beef kebabs were brought out. After finishing this, I figured we were done. Nope, another round of beers came and half of a duck (I think) was brought out. Once this was completed (barely, I was stuffed) There was fruit and tea for dessert. I couldn't tell you what kind of fruit it was but one was supposed to dip it in this spicy powder. It made for an interesting combination. And what did all of this cost you are wondering? 30$. For six people. Incredible. By the way, I don't know what actual work these people do at the institute cause I was with them from 10 a.m. till 3 p.m. and they didn't do an ounce of work (lunch lasted 2 hours).
After leaving the institute we saw a few music shops around and I thought it might be a good idea to get a guitar. No cable or internet in the house leaves very few entertainment options. We browsed a couple of stores but everyone was asking for at least 60$. I just wanted some little piece guitar so we finally found a guy selling one for 22$. I asked to pay 18. He said 22. I said 20. He said 22. These guys are very stubborn, probably why we didn't win the war. Anyway I forked over the extra 2 dollars and ended up with a decent instrument. I can tell you that it sounds a lot better than the one I have at home. We got back to the house at around 5 and lazed around trying to cool off. Eventually we hopped up and headed over to an Indian restaurant situated right on the lake. The food here was magnificent (a running theme over here if you couldn't tell). We got home and called it a night.
Whew that was a lot. I don't know if I'm going to be able to upload photos anytime soon so you might have to wait until I get back to see some of the things I've seen. From today though there should be a post at least every other day.
Take care everybody,