Vietnam is known for a unique kind of “street bar” where dozens (if not hundreds) of locals sit outdoors on small plastic stools, socializing over a microbrew called “bia hoi.” Bia hoi is prepared fresh daily and sold mindbogglingly cheap – until just a few years ago a glass cost as little as 0.10c, but as inflation has skyrocketed it’s now about 0.25c.
Oh dear, looks like I only get 25 beers for $10USD! 😉
As Hanoi’s most well-known bia hoi spot (appropriately named “Bia Hoi Junction”) is just a short walk from the lake, once Maartje and I had our fill of the Liberation Day performances we headed there on foot…but were shocked to find it more or less abandoned. On a Saturday night during a major holiday weekend.
“It’s only 9pm, are we here too early?” we wondered, heading to a couple other bars I’d marked on my map. All empty. So we returned to the backpacker area where there were a few more bia hoi spots. Dead.
Am I missing something?
We decided to sip a few drinks at the busiest place we could find (8 or 9 people?), then try our luck again in an hour. It wasn’t even 15 minutes before the “anti-fun police” rolled up.
Now that was really hilarious. All of a sudden everyone jumped up, collected their little stools, and moved off the sidewalk. Moments later a pickup full of cops drove by, and literally the second it had passed – not yet even out of sight – everyone replaced their stools and returned to exactly what they’d been doing.
Wow, that’s some effective law enforcement 😆
We finished up our drinks and returned to Bia Hoi Junction, now about 10:15pm. It was far busier than before…until 10:30 when they ran out of bia hoi. Then at 11 it closed down completely. Apparently everything has to close by 11, even on weekends.
Still, we decided to give the bars just one more shot and headed to a place called “Temple.”
What the heck…this place was heaving! We stood outside finishing our last glass of beer (in utter disbelief that anywhere could be so busy while everything else is abandoned) until the anti-fun police rolled up again.
The music immediately shut off, the doors closed, and people outside started to disperse.
Then the cops drove away.
The doors reopened, the music restarted, and the drinking resumed just as if nothing had happened.
HAH! Are you serious?? Even when they closed the doors, dozens of partiers remained in the bar – the cops didn’t even try to make anyone leave. Honestly, what are they thinking? Perhaps they just had to drop by and collect their evening bribe?
Anyway, we hung out at Temple until probably around 3. As it was 99% foreigners it wasn’t really the type of night out I’d been hoping for, but good to know that at least there’s somewhere to go in this town.
Besides, starting tomorrow there won’t be any hardcore partying for awhile…because my dad finally arrives! 😀
Note: These posts are behind realtime; the above took place on Saturday, April 30th.