With nothing more than a quick two hour flight, we traded the 30 degree heat and insane scooter traffic of Ho Chi Minh City for the 6 degree heat and insane scooter traffic of Hanoi. The second leg of our trip had begun whether we were prepared for it or not.
THE COLD SNAP OF THE MILLENIUM
The day time temperature in Hanoi ranged from 5 to 13 degrees Celsius while we were in town. The locals looked completely miserable, starting fires on the sidewalk all hours of the day and night and glumly wrapping up in ski jackets, toques and scarves.
We read in the daily newspaper that the Vietnamese Government was “responding to the crisis by taking quick action, distributing hot tea and blankets to the people of Hanoi.” Over a hundred schools were shut down during the crisis which we can all agree must have been pretty sweet for the Vietnamese Kids who got to duck out of school after Christmas Break.
We asked an English speaking hotel staffer if she had kids who didn’t have to go to school because of the weather and she rolled her eyes and sighed “my children make me crazy. They need to go back to school.”
ENTER TEAM CANADA
As a hard core Prairie Boy who thinks nothing of starting a car without a jacket in sub zero temperatures, we dressed for the occasion by wearing a fleece vest and jeans.
This was judged by the locals as something between “foolhardy” and “an invitation for the Angel of Death to carry us away into the frozen sky.” Several times little old ladies would stop us on the street in alarm and make the motions of shivering and point at our bare arms.
We would laugh and say “No, no Canada!” before resuming our jaunty Canadian strut down the street. When you know that you are the toughest person in the country, it is hard for it not to go to your head.
That’s being superhuman for you we suppose.
THE LOCAL FARE
We have heard tales of the legendary Thai buckets from our ne’er do well friends that have travelled over here. "Be very careful of the buckets" they warned, "they can sneak up on you."
Never one to want to wait for things to sneak up on us, @thesquireyeg and your ol’ pal Wanye have been on a mission to sample the impossibly strong drinks being dispensed to our backpacking brethren.
At this one club in Hanoi we found this little pink fella in the picture above – cleverly titled a "Pig’s Ass" on the menu and described simply as being “full of thing.”
Having drank not one but two of these devils we can say that "full of thing" must be a rough translation for “some sort of Hanoi death juice” that "makes one’s hair grow a quarter of an inch in less than an hour.”
And these are the Vietnamese buckets mind you, which we haven’t even heard anyone talk about.
Very nice indeed.
THE BROWN BROS
We would be completely remiss in describing Hanoi to the Nation if we didn’t include some words of breathless excitement about a visit from the coolest brothers on Earth – the Brown Boys from Brisbane, Australia.
We met them in 2009 on our backpacking trip to Europe and we have been able to overcome the astronomical odds of staying in touch and becoming actual friends as opposed to travel friends who part ways never to be heard from again.
The Browns are powerhouses with the Morningside Panthers in the AFL-Q. Despite the fact that their training camp began two days after they left us in Hanoi, they managed to make it all the way to Vietnam for a few days and put on a partying clinic for the ages.
One half of the Brothers also starred in this embarrassing video for a team charity fundraiser. Once you are being viewed in Canada, you know you have arrived as an internet ladyboy.
What beauties. Good luck in the upcoming season fellas.
Next up on the backpacking docket is Thailand, home of Thai buckets, Muy Thai fighting, Pad Thai eating and heavens knows what other shenanigans. You can follow us on twitter @wanyegretz or failing that please leave your fax number in the comments below and we will send out some group messages the old fashioned way.
Last article we sent good wishes of healing to Jordan Eberle. In this impossibly jinxed season we will sign off this piece being thankful that Potter didn’t decapitate Taylor Hall with his skate in warmup and hope he returns soon.
What is going on??