Hanoi, Vietnam : Getting Tattoo In Vietnam

So you are in Hanoi and plan to get a tattoo?
I’ve visited 6 tattoo studios in Hanoi and to be honest, I only impressed with two studios. But if I have to choose one between these two, I go for Hanoitattoo Studio based on their studio, the equipment that they use, the prove of their tattoo artists’ artworks, professionalism and well, the price offered for sure. The other one is equally good but not in term of price. The rest is just a little bit too shady and didn’t give me a good impression of professional in tattoo studio/artists. Few of it look more like mafia hiding place rather than a tattoo studio!
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Not that I am a pro about the whole thing related to tattoo but well, at least I know what I should know. I don’t have huge art piece on my body, to be honest. I only had 8 “stamps”. At I got myself 2 tattoos at Hanoitattoo Studio. It was my 7th,8th and 9th tattoo. The #7th – The infinity symbol + anchor + 3 birds + “faith” + “refuse to sink”. The #8th – Calvin & Hobbes and the #9th, shark in tribal design 🙂
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 So far many backpackers that I brought to Hanoitattoo Studio were happy with the results of their tattoos. They love it as it was very detailed, very beautifully and carefully done and most important they are happy with the price which pretty a good deal (well, thank you to me, I always negotiate the price for them as the people in the studio know me pretty well already. Hehehe!).
So yeah, if any of you wanna get a tattoo in Hanoi, I strongly suggest you to go to Hanoitattoo Studio for the best tattoo works. Click HERE for their facebook and more info!
Oh! Before I forget, there is lovely, shy yet friendly pitbull dog at Hanoitattoo Studio! You’ll love that big boy! Cheers!
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Hanoi, Vietnam : Food Hunting Part 4

Well… basically, to be honest, I am tired of the “airy baguette” for breakfast. It is like I’m munching on nothing but air. Also, I just unable to adapt to the way of local people here having their breakfast with Pho – the noodle soup or Bun Cha – another version of noodle soup but they separate the noodle and the soup (eh?). In another word, I just don’t like the local baguette and soupy food. Well, I never was a soup fan anyway. Mehhh…
So, after Michael left to Ha Long Bay and I still had that motorcycle that we rented with me, I just went around Old Quarters looking for non-local stuffs to eat. I was about to go to PUKU but PUKU is a little bit out-of-budget place for me so I kept wandering around the Old Quarters and randomly stopped at Rainbow Cafe/Restaurant at No. 37-38 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi because I was so hungry.
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(image from tripadvisor)
I opted for so-called American Breakfast priced at 62,000VND. As you can see, the breakfast consist of salad (tomato, lettuce, cucumber), fries, sausage (really small one, cut like a flower, not enough for me), ham (not really a good one but eatable), 2 sunny side-up fried egg (this one is pretty good, not well-done, loved it!), baguette and butter.
I was so happy that it was a real baguette! I mean a proper baguette! Not that airy baguette being sold by any road side of Hanoi. And… it was still warm when being served to me. So I just stuffed every single other things on plate in the middle of the baguette (and lots of chili sauce, too) except the fries. It was so good and filling too! I was so happy!
And yesterday at night, I followed Nico to Hang Trong street to try this local street snack. The stall only open after 6.30pm and situated next to Pepperoni’s Pizza Restaurant, in front the juction of Pho Bao Khanh. The snack called “banh trang tron” and have no translation for it in English. Hehehe!
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(image from google image)
The ingredients to use this snack is shredded rice papers, shredded/thin-sliced young mango (lots of it!), peanuts, dried shrimps, beef jerky, pork jerky, fried shallots, quail eggs, soy sauce, satay sauce, salt and chili. It is a bit like “rojak” in Malaysia/Singapore/Indonesia because all the ingredients (except the beef/pork jerky) being mixed in one huge bowl and before serving, topped with those beef/pork jerky.
The cost of this snack @ banh trang tron is 20,000VND per serving. It wasn’t big enough to make me feel full but good enough as an appetizer before real stuffs.

Hanoi, Vietnam : Food Hunting Part 3 (Western Food, please…)

So I went out with my brother-from-another-mother, Aiden from England with 2 others – Jesse and Sadie for a late lunch + early dinner at Al Fresco Restaurant at No. 19 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi (Old Quarters area). Well, obviously I am not in a position to spend money in such place on such food but well, so, THANK YOU AIDEN! 😀 It was a good foodies session!
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I ordered a “beef cheesy burritos” served with side salad, baked stuffed potato and 3 dips – guacamole, sour cream and spicy tomato salsa. As for Aiden, he ordered a very yummy “beef steak” served with side salad and fries. Jesse got for himself a big-sized pan-crusted “BBQ chicken and mushroom pizza” meanwhile like most typical girl (hehehe!) Sadie got herself a plate of nice “Al Fresco’s styled Caesar salad“.
Since it was on Aiden… I have no idea the total of the bill but what I know, all together with drinks and wine for the soon-to-celebrate birthday boy, it was around 2,000,000VND.

Hanoi, Vietnam : Food Hunting Part 2

Walked around with my roomies Philip from California, USA and Inge from The Netherlands without any intention, we passed by a street food stalls at No. 57 Hang Bo Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi (Old Quarters area) full of customers and we made a decision to give it a try although we had to wait for more than 10 minutes for a sit. A really super-low sit on super-small chair.
They served this deep-fried cake with prawn (in Malaysia they call such thing as “cucur udang”) and fried wanton dumplings with meat. Those two items were served together with the typical shrimp-broth and fish-sauce sauce and fresh herbs. The snacks are called“Cat Toc Trong Ngo” and I have no idea what does it mean in Vietnamese.
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(image from soshiok.com)
For 3 of us, we paid 60,000VND which is pretty cheap.NEXT!
As me and Philip and Inge kept on walking on the same day, we reach the end of west-side of Old Quarters. Turn to the left, as we kept on walking, we passed a single food stall selling a local dessert and since Philip talked about a jelly & coconut milk (I am not sure what does it called in Vietnamese), we decided to make a stop and try it out.  Oh! In Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia, they called it “ais kacang” or “air batu campur”.
The desserts was a rich mix of variety type of jellys and some other stuffs including red beans, corn kernels and mung beans paste and coconut milk. It was good and not the same like the one that me and Michael had few days before in Quan An Ngon.
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(image by sweetsbychan.com)
Situated right in front of the gate at No. 79-81 Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi(Old Quarters area), it definitely worth a stop and 20,000VND each of the yummy local dessert.
Note: Again, I apologize for using images that I took from google image. I lost all my food pictures 😦

Hanoi, Vietnam : Food Hunting Part 1

So…. me and my dorm mate, Michael from Germany decided to roam around Hanoi and hunting for a good Vietnamese food. We are so tired of pho (noodle soup), bun cha (dry noodle with sauce, herbs, spring rolls & grilled meat patties), bun nem chua be (like bun cha but without the grilled meat patties), my xao bo (fried egg noodles with beef and greens), banh my (local-styled sandwich), cong ga (tapioca porridge with chicken) and such.
So we rented a bike just for that purpose – food hunting! And we had map prepared, too!

The first place we went to was No. 14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi (still around Old Quarter area)  “Banh Cuon Gia Truyen” a small restaurant that serves Banh Cuon –or a rolled cake that made from thin layer of steamed rice batter rolled withseasoned ground chicken or pork (you choose!) and mushrooms and topped with lots of fried shallots and chicken floss. It came together with special essence sauce that gives the sweet taste. Well not bad … and the price is not that expensive (but the portion was not big enough for a foodies like us). Chicken banh cuon for 35,000VND and pork banh cuon for 40,000VND.

vfood banhcuon(image from buzzfeed.com)

After that, we went to No. 31 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi (yes, still in Old Quarters area) “Cha Ca Thang Long” a fully air-conditioned small restaurant that servesCha Ca – a crayfish dish stir fried together with dill (yes, dill!) and spring onions – right in front of our faces. The other key components of this cha ca dishes is bun (rice noodles), fresh herbs consist of coriander and Thai basil, shredded scallionsfried ground peanuts, and the special sauce with chili for a bit of spicy taste. The price of Cha Ca is 120,000VND per serving which the portion served was pretty enough for both of us (probably because we had banh cuon earlier on). And two cokes for 20,000VND each. Well… burppp! Hahaha! It was a good meal. Very decent.
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(image from vkeong.com)
Then both of us took our rented motorbike to the West Lake area. The weather was really chill and windy! It took us quite sometimes to scroll around the lake. Yeap, it is a very big lake. Both of us decided to take a stop at “Ngõ 128 đường Thụy Khê, rẽ phải 30m, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội” (No. 128 (facing) Thuy Khe, turn right and 30meters down, Tay Ho District, Hanoi and…nope, this is no longer in Old Quarters area) “IGC Coffee” – a coffee shop set across the street from the lake side. Me and Michael sat facing right the lake, enjoyed the cool breeze of winter in Hanoi. We spent about one and half hour here, escaped from the busy, dirty polluted air, noisy Old Quarters area.
We had double scoop chocolate ice cream with Kahlua and sweetened whipped cream (35,000VND each), iced black coffee for him (20,000VND) and iced coffee with condensed milk for me (25,000VND).
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(image from steamykitchen.com)
Since it was about to close to rush hour, me and Michael decided to heading back to the Old Quarters area and go for the last shot of our food hunting day. We made a stop at“18 Phan Boi Chau, Cua Nam, Hoan Kiem Distirct, Hanoi” to the famous a’la food court restaurant called “Quan An Ngon” for early dinner (well, it was not even 5pm! LOL!). So I ordered Banh Xeo – a famous Hue food – a shrimp pancake with bean sprouts and scallions, rolled together (by my own) with fresh herbs and sweet chili sauce in a rice paper. For Michael, he had a fresh grilled squids and steamed rice. When we were about to pay and leave the place, Michael got distracted by a colorful desserts served to a customers on the next table. Well, what else, so we decided to try it. I don’t really know what does it call but it was a various type of jelly, tapioca mixed in water chestnut and coconut milk. And… we were really really really filled and full.
Price for the Banh Xeo is 58,000 VND, fresh grilled squid 120,000VND, steamed rice 20,000VND, dessert 24,000VND each. And well, we had diet coke (hahaha! diet!) for 22,000VND each.
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(image from yeutre.vn)
Well… that was an early dinner. Somewhere around 10pm, we got bit hungry again and decided to have a simple dinner 6 doors down to the right from our hostel because we couldn’t even bother to go to anywhere else as we were so tired and Michael was pretty drunk from the drinking game during the beer-o’clock in our hostel. LOL!
I had spicy chicken fried rice for 40,000VND and Michael had Bun Nem Chua Be for himself at the price of 35,000VND and both of us had old-style bottled coca-cola for 10,000VND each.
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(image from yelp.com)
And that was the end of food hunting for us 🙂 So basically both of us spent 740,000VND in total (est. USD35.00) for all of above – meals, drinks & desserts (5 places, lots of food). Guess it was pretty good for 2 people, right? More on food hunting soon!!!
Note: Apologize for using someone else’s pictures that I googled from. I lost many of food images from my hard disk.

Hanoi, Vietnam : City With Character

What I can say about this capital city of Vietnam? It’s busy, dusty, hectic, chaotic… it’s mental. Well, the traffic is a little bit less scary and crazy than Ho Chi Minh City but nevertheless, still dangerous.
The locals wakes up as early as 5am and start their daily routines or activities as soon after that. You can see people jogging, walking, around Hoan Kiem Lake even before sun rise. Street paddlers selling stuffs on the street. Small traders get ready to open their shops.
At night, backpackers, flashpackers, tourists, locals will crash bia hoi area @ Ta Hien St. They will sit arms-to-arms, butts-to-butts next to each other on kiddie chairs drinking cheap beers, enjoy snacks like deep-fried cheese sticks, sausages, fries, etc. and talking to each other. This is also the time where traders become pretty aggressive and some overly friendly just to get you to sit down and drink at their place. Remember, you are walking ATM machine for them!
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Everything, every business in Hanoi will, well… compulsory to shut down at midnight. The police will come to every single business premises (restaurants, bars, clubs, etc) and order all the patrons to go home and close. Anyway… for vampires, batman, draculas, owls, insomniacs or party people… worried not! There are few illegal, underground place that still open after midnight. I am not gonna tell you where and what is the place ( I am sure the business owners appreciates my move here) that still operating after the legal hours. Go and find ‘em yourselves 🙂 Sure you can!

Hanoi, Vietnam : Water Puppets

Water puppets is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today’s Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.
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Here at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, these water puppetry is performed in a pool of water 4 meters square with the water surface being the stage.
A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment. The instrumentation includes vocals, drums, wooden bells, cymbals, horns, Đàn bầu, gongs, and bamboo flutes.
Singers of Chèo sing songs which tell the story being acted out by the puppets. The musicians and the puppets interact during performance; the musicians may yell a word of warning to a puppet in danger or a word of encouragement to a puppet in need. The puppets enter from either side of the stage, or emerge from the murky depths of the water.
Check the website for ticket price, show schedules and other information on the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater.