You meet amazing people when traveling; fellow travelers who share their stories. You’re lucky if you are able to meet locals. Locals tell you the best of their culture; share their hearts; places for good food; sites not in the guidebook; why things are the way they are; authentic discussions between non-fellow countrymen.
Monday night it happened to us….again. We visited out favourite local pub (Bia Hoi Ha Noi) with the idea of going for a delicious dinner of grilled skewers later in the evening. After a few beers, our night took on new life, summed up by my comment of ‘let’s just go with it’!
After ordering a few draft beers and munching on peanuts, a group of eight local Vietnamese joined tables next to us. The local pubs in Vietnam are nothing but flexible. A few more plastic tables and chairs were quickly arranged, and it was starting to get busy in our neck of the pub.
The group began ordering plates upon plates of food. Just when we thought they were finished, out comes a hotpot of broth with rare beef. The beef is cooked table-side, fondu style. Along with this was a salad of dried beef and local greens. Being foodies, they now had our attention. SarahKate was longingly checking out the beef salad as the nearest lady offered to let her try it: The beginning of the end.
Within minutes, we had new friends who requested that we turn our table to join them for the evening. For the next few hours, friendly bonding ensued. Check out the video of the group: Our new friends!
They turned out to be a group of co-workers. The boss was taking them out for the evening. Food and beer was on the boss. Oh, and he decided to pick up our check as well. What a guy!!!
Well, first there was the general stuff: Where are you from?; How do you like Vietnam?; Here, try this; Another round of beers; Cheers!!
This was followed by ‘do you like hot dog?’, where an affirmative meant that they ordered hot dog for us to have at the table. By this point, they had already shared the beef salad with us, and we had eaten a large portion of the beef cooked in the hotpot. They were so excited to share their food and culture with us. Constant ‘Yo’ was being said as we would cheers for a round during all of this.
Next, I seemed to have a good idea: shake everyones’ hands and get a few key photos as I went aroud the table. This was well received! I think I got a hug or two as well.
Finally, as the night wound down, a few people headed for home; a few relatives showed up; we got a business card of where they worked; and an invitation for a Bun Cha lunch the next day was issued. What a night!!!
We said our goodbyes, only to be back up tomorrow thinking ‘Do we have lunch plans?’ We looked up the address, which was nearby, and headed out for lunch. Sure enough, they were expecting us. This time, only three of them joined us. However, they gave us a motorbike ride to a very well-known and amazing Bun Cha restaurant. We love a good motorbike ride through Hanoi.
Lunch was delicious. We had a great time with our new friends, who again, paid for the food. Then, we were back to their offices to walk back to our hostel. What an amazing group of people and experience for us all!