September 25, 2006
Hanoi: Jam packed, with two couples sharing one table.
Saigon: Chairs in rows like bus seats.
Hanoi: Brought to you with the waitress’s thumb as a free extra.
Saigon: A bowl of noodles comes on a plate.
Hanoi: Seldom without MSG and bread.
Saigon: Must include herbs, bean sprouts and red (or black) chilli.
Hanoi: Good and sticky, wrapped in banana leaves.
Saigon: Terribly dry, sold in boxes or nylon bags.
GOING FOR A BEER
Hanoi: Bia hoi (local draught beer) with peanuts, back home by 9pm.
Saigon: Must include herbs, bean sprouts and red (or black) chilli: Bottled beer with lots of rice, a hot pot, home after midnight.
Hanoi: Not much choice, but tasty.
Saigon: Good variety, cheap and acceptable but nothing special.
Hanoi: Small pieces of sweet and sour stir-fried pork ribs.
Saigon: Giant lumps of unskillfully grilled pork ribs.
Hanoi: Xe om drivers around Hoan Kiem lake wear suits.
Saigon: People go to the best hotels wearing shorts and sandals.
SHOES AND SOCKS
Hanoi: Women can wear socks without shoes.
Saigon: Men can wear shoes without socks.
Hanoi: You can cut across a car, but make sure to turn right only on a green light.
Saigon: You can ignore red lights, but don’t stray into the car lane.
WHEN THE LIGHT IS RED
Hanoi: You can’t turn right.
Saigon: You can even turn left.
PARKING AT SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS
Saigon: “VND2,000, please”.
Hanoi: Obsolete models rarely seen.
Saigon: Like a museum, where ancient models are still going.
Hanoi: You are shocked if someone says, “Thank you”.
Saigon: It’s normal for a receptionist to bow when you walk in.
TWO WOMEN CHOOSE THE SAME PRODUCT
Hanoi: “Let’s get one each”.
Saigon: “If you take it, I’ll go for something else”.
A MAN ASKS A WOMAN IF SHE LOVES HIM. SHE ANSWERS:
Hanoi: “What if I say no?”
Saigon: “Why not?”
YOU ARE RICH
Hanoi: If you have a lot of money.
Saigon: If you spend a lot of money.
MOBILE PHONE RINGS ON THE STREETS
Hanoi: Stop and chat in the middle of a busy intersection to let the whole world know how important you are.
Saigon: Stop, get onto the pavement, and keep a look-out in all directions in case someone tries to steal your phone.
Hanoi: Similar to its females, smouldering and persistent.
Saigon: Like its girls, attractive but soon over.
Hanoi: The staff are rude and surly.
Saigon: A comfortable place for a free read, especially for kids.
Hanoi: A quiet and uplifting place where you leave daily concerns behind.
Saigon: Noisy and secular.
Hanoi: Immense and romantic.
Saigon: No bigger than a pond.
STUDENTS AND CALL GIRLS
Hanoi: Prostitutes pretend to be students.
Saigon: Students dress like prostitutes.
Hanoi vs Saigon [Myspace]
[Photo: J Catlett]