Friday, September 30, 2016



Hanoi is insane!  Cars, scooters and millions of people all vying for the same space. It is also hot and humid only curtailed by another zillion electric fans on the footpaths aimed at where locals virtually live, cook and eat on tiny plastic chairs between the quadzillion scooters perched on the same footpaths.  Pedestrians are forced to walk on the road risking ambush by any one of a million teenage Rambos on 50cc scooters of death.  Indeed, pedestrian crossings only mean that the petrol driven onslaught may move around you as you cling onto some deity whilst wishing for a slightly longer life.
Chaos worthy of a comic.  Yet, it all works amongst the cacophony of horns and overworked horn laryngitis-bleats. Mum, dad and two kids on one scooter blissfully carving through and around buses, trucks and other parents on the school run.  These kids will be able to handle anything as they grow up.
Then, add vendors carrying payloads four times bigger than their bike, cyclo men hawking business as they roll by and more traditional shoulder denting double basket women ignoring everyone.
I did say chaos didn’t I!
We didn’t quite figure out what a ‘walking street’ was as they were also full of the above mentioned chaos.  Perhaps these streets were labelled as ‘walking’ to concentrate tourists into more targeted strike zones with lots of hole-in-the-wall shops selling everything as well as people on the aforementioned plastic stools drinking indeterminate beverages.
All this capped off by on-display barbecued meats on street side trolleys one of which was piled with preroasted dogs. Yes, what seemed incredibly like a bunch of Fidos; head, teeth and all.
Taxi’s are an oasis of semi-calm as long as you keep your eyes closed whilst a ride with a cyclo man can be a life changing experience.  Semi-reclining whilst looking at traffic between your toes having completely surrendered life and limb to a stranger pushing you-first into the chaos. He knows who will get smacked first!
Repairing to any air conditioned space with a sound proof door is cathartic and indeed critical for brain-load survival.  The concierge saying hello whilst he opens the door is therapeutic only bettered by the door closing behind you.
Yet right in the middle of chaotic dysfunction we have a university which has focussed on literature for around a thousand years.  How cool is that!

For a Melbourne bloke Hanoi is gob smacking and quite an experience.  Every facet is different and challenging but isn’t that what makes a good holiday?



'Air Vietnam'

Flight VN300 Saigon to Narita 13/9/2016
Booked a window seat specifically but on arriving at the allocated seat we found ‘no’ window.  Yes, no window – it was blank!  However to the staffs’ credit on asking we were transferred to another row with a window so all was well but the question remains as to why we were allocated a totally inappropriate seat. Adding on to this level of dysfunction was the fact that one of our screens didn’t work as didn’t several other screens in the immediate area.  How can this lack of maintenance happen and what does it tell you about airworthiness?

Flight VN257 Hanoi to Ho Chi Min 24/9/2016
No wine, beer, tea, coffee or indeed even headphones plus the worst sandwich I have ever part eaten on a plane.  On the reverse trip from Saigon to Hanoi we received all of the above so therefore it is this flight which failed to offer expected and standard services.  As this is less than standard we suggest that you check what is supposed to be served on each leg.  Service is a critical part of flying and staff curtailing this service so they can sit down for most of the flight is not on.

Flight VN781  Saigon to Melbourne 24/9/2016
More problems.  This was an 8 hour flight which meant we were captive for the duration depending on Vietnam Air for entertainment, comfort and sustenance.  My knees were hard against the seat in front which was tighter than our other two flights with the same airline.  This made it difficult to move and most certainly difficult to try and sleep.  As well and once again, one of our screens had a vision fault.  But, the worst part of this flight was the food.  Fish for supper was undercooked, mushy and thoroughly awful and the entire breakfast was inedible with the exception of the yogurt.  I have pictures.

Go elsewhere.  It’s a pity because the staff were great and most hospitable. Our problems were management based around maintenance, food and misrepresented expectations.  Dysfunctions on one flight may have been a one off but three in a row says Vietnam air need help with a few aspects.


I have always been confused as to just why bread is supposed to be served with everything.  Bread is a filler and except for certain specific dishes it has little place in a properly constructed meal.  Mop up sauce with a teaspoon and savour the true flavour without diminution of flavour through bread.  
We make our own bread and charge for it but really hope people never order it. 
As an example of where bread IS important, we serve a steak tartare which as you know is yummy gooey soft and full of flavour but it needs a texture change so we serve butter sauté ‘soldiers’  to act as the fork.  The bread is integral with the entrée because of that texture change.   
I just thought of another exception, a chip butty.  Standard unwholesome white bread buttered and wrapped around crispy hot salted chips.  That’s about as good as woofing a dimmi on a street corner at 2am.  Yum.
So fine dining at work vs  gob smackingly good chip butties - time and place.  Eat bread at home but let a proper restaurant tempt you with all sorts of flavours and textures.

Mon Ami Restaurant