In search of wants

We had breakfast at a recommended Pho place. No one spoke English and there were no foreigners in sight. So we simply said ‘pho’ and got a wonderful meal. We are not in the part of the old town where the tourists hang out, as we discovered later which makes conversation difficult. It also means English menus are missing – here people know what they want and say so. We will point at what looks good and experiement.

In our neighborhood the coffee houses are local. The people who work there don’t know what and expresso is. They serve Vietnamese coffee which Axel didn’t dare to try given his reaction to any coffee that isn’t brewed in the expresso way.

We searched on our phones for our kind of coffee place and discovered the Bialetti Café. Mr. Bialetti, recently deceased, invented the octogenal moca maker which we possess in 4 sizes. We figured we could get the right kind of coffee there. But both Google maps and Waze pointed us to a place that was not the Bialetti Café, even though the address corresponded to our search results. All hot and sweaty we asked our phones to point us to the closest Starbucks where the coffee was right and the airco on extra high.

We have tried to use Uber but with taxis costing about a dollar and being in abundance, Uber (if you want a car rather than a moto) turns out to be a royal pain; try to spot your car in between 100s of motos. We tried twice and then canceled. The Uber moto appeals to me but Axel has no interest in this kind of transportation.

At Starbucks we arranged for a pedicure. I had expected to find mani-pedi places on each street corner here but we are either in the wrong part of town or all the mani-pedicurists have moved to the US.  We had another wild goose chase to find the place of our appointment which turned out to have branches, each with a different name. The treatment was disappointing – I have had better – and this in what I thought was the center of the mani-pedi universe. Axel basically had his nails cut and mine were varnished in addition-nothing more.

We treated ourselves to delicious but exorbitantly priced lunch in a French-Vietnamese fusion restaurant; no regrets but for that amount of money we could have eaten street food for the next 5 meals. In the evening we did just that, although the food was served inside and not on the street. It was a specialized one dish restaurant: pieces of fried fish with a mountain of dill and scallions cooked in a small frying pan at our table, then poured over a bowl of cold noodles, peanuts, a lime/fish sauce, chilies and fresh mint and other herbs we couldn’t name. It is fast and cheap and with high turnover of customers, clearly a money maker. Madam, the owner we supposed, was sitting at a table next to us counting her money – stacks of it.

After dinner we walked around the lake accompanied by thousands of motos, locals and tourists. This place swings at night, even with the heat and humidity that doesn’t let up. We are here during the wrong season we learned.

We are still trying to figure out what to do from Sunday on. The choices are legion and there are tourist traps everywhere. With internet access we are heeding the ‘Buyer Beware’ but it is a lot of homework that we probably should have done weeks ago.

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May 2016
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