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Vietnam

Truth in advertising

I ordered the “egg-free breakfast with beans.”

Not a single egg in that bowl of beans!

Hungry Trip

On a recent trip to the countryside, we ran into an unexpected problem.  Come dinnertime, we couldn’t find anything to eat! There were no restaurants in the area, just farm houses and small towns.  Even the stores closed up early.

We finally found one “restaurant” that I wouldn’t want to eat at, if I had a choice.  Picture a concrete barn.  But we didn’t have any other options, so we went in and ordered their “specialty” (the only thing the restaurant sells): glutinous rice and duck meat.  The owner of the restaurant looked at us like we were stupid and said: “we’re all out of food.” I guess by 6:00pm or so, restaurants in the area have sold all of the food that they prepared for the day, and that’s it.  And we were stupid for not knowing that.  The owner said she still had a glob of glutinous rice, but no more duck meat.

Better than nothing, we figured.  We asked her to split up the glob into three portions, one for each of us.  I’m not a fan of glutinous rice in the first place, and wasn’t looking forward to eating that for dinner, but I was hungry, and so mentally prepared myself for the worst dinner of the year.

As we walked back to our car, by chance, we saw someone across the street making little “banh xeo” (Vietnamese savory pancakes).  They’re usually much bigger, the side of  large dinner plate.  I’d never seen them made this way before.  We got some of those to add to our feast of lukewarm leftover glutinous rice.

 

Banh Xeo: shrimp, batter, bean sprouts, “served” with a handful of fresh herbs (mint, basil, lettuce) and fish sauce.

This was a dinner that I won’t forget, at least not for a long time.  At least it was cheap.

The definition of “not worth it.”

If I’m going to pay to use a restroom, it’s reasonable to ask that I don’t get cholera from using it.

Haphazard mishmash of meaningless platitudes

But happy new year anyway.

New Year’s Eve, Ho Chi Minh City

The city threw a big party to celebrate the new year.

Magic Hand Wipes in a Japanese Restaurant

After this experience, I may have to move to Japan.

Excellent compromise

I usually enjoy a cup of coffee in the afternoon. But our office holiday party was held in the afternoon this week, at a local micro-brewery.

Coffee vanilla porter bridged the gap perfectly.

I finally found my barber shop

You might think that male pattern baldness would make going to the barber easy.  Less hair to cut should mean an easier haircut.  Apparently, it is, as long as you’re in America.  For some reason, while living in Asia, I’ve had trouble finding a barber who can give me a decent bald-man’s haircut.  Most of the places that I’ve been to have either trimmed around the edges, making me looking like Bozo the Clown, or have shaved me almost bald, which I don’t mind, but which my wife doesn’t like.

Not the look I was going for.

Again, I’m a bald man, and I don’t have very high expectations.  “Handsome” is something I’ve given up on a long time ago (I don’t even think about “sexy”).  Nowadays, my standard is: “not ridiculous.”  And yet Asian barbers can’t seem to get up to that level. Far too often, I’ve walked out of an Asian barbershop disappointed. It could be me, I don’t know.

Since the time of the smartphone, I’ve kept photos of a good haircut that I got in America. I show the pictures to barbers when I visit.  Again, American barbers see the pictures, and can give me exactly what I want.  But Asian barbers have difficulties.

In Vietnam, the first place that I went to gave me a so-so haircut, but it was really expensive – about US$15.  That isn’t a bad price by American standards, but it’s way more than I think I should be paying in the Vietnam economy.  And it wasn’t a great haircut, just so-so. When it was time for my next haircut, my wife took me to the place where she gets her hair done.  They did an acceptable job that time.  But the second time I went, it was Bozo the Clown again.

That’s why I was so happy with the place that I went to today.  Brothers Barbers is a real gem. It was a little hard to find.  We had to walk through a clothes shop to get to the staircase in the back alley. But when I saw the place, I knew it had promise.

This is what a barbershop should look like.

The shop is like a combination of man cave and barbershop.  While you’re waiting your turn, you can enjoy a single-malt whisky from their selection, or smoke a Cuban cigar on the balcony.

Would you like a whisky while you wait? Or maybe a coffee?

As soon as Mr. Quoc started on my hair, I knew I was in the hands of a real barber.

You want to go to this barbershop.

It was pricey, about US$17, the same price that I usually pay in America.  But I’m happy to pay it.  Mr. Quoc cut my hair exactly the way I wanted it (i.e., not ridiculous).  Plus his place is really classy.  And their website is cool, too.

Get your hair cut here. You will not regret it.

The Adventures of The Dumper

Chapter 1: Restrained.

Chapter 2: Liberated.

Chapter 3: Consequences.

The end.

Another city,…

…another Awesome Chair Of Awesomeness.

–in the Intercontinental Hanoi.