Travel & Living in Hanoi, Vietnam
I have written before about events happening in threes. This time the pattern involved food – of one description or another – during a trip to the Bát Trang pottery village outside Hanoi.
The popular tourist attraction sits barely half an hour distant from Hanoi by bus. Our starting point was the Long Bien bus station where, despite using buses a lot, I finally worked out that bus stances listing services as về means to return (from) and that’s why you get shooed away to the other side of the station to catch the bus. You can only get on the bus if the service is listed as đi. (See bus no. 47A and 58 for details.)
However, I digress. The first of the stomach-churning Bát Trang Three, so to speak, occurred while standing to wait for the aforementioned 47A. Close to us was a woman selling Vietnamese doughnuts. As she stepped forward from her basket of sugary goodies to serve a customer, her leg caught the basket and two doughnuts spilled onto the ground.
She didn’t notice until she clipped one with her foot on the way back to the basket. I intently watched, with a growing sense of trepidation about what she was going to do next, as she bent down to retrieve the stray doughnuts. Sure enough, she wiped the doughnut she had kicked on her trouser leg and put them both back into the basket to sell. Bleuch.
Later in Bát Trang, depending on how delicate your stomach is, there was another food-related incident that was marginally worse. We had stopped off for a coffee and had ordered two servings of chips (French fries/khoai tây chiên). By chance, we had a direct line of sight into the kitchen where my hungry companion spotted the waitress picking a chip off one of the plates and eating it before serving us. Bizarrely, we let this one slide on the basis it was not our plate that was involved. In our minds at least.
Having topped the rogue doughnut seller and thrown a couple of pots, we expected the journey home to be uneventful. How wrong we were. Sitting on the second of two buses home, there was an old lady two seats in front throwing up into a plastic bag. Nothing unusual there until we pulled up at a bus stop and the door opposite her opened. Presumably, because there was no one getting on or off, she seized the opportunity to lob her vomit-filled bag out the open door.
From our slightly elevated position near the rear of the bus, we were treated to the spectacle of the bag splatting onto the road and disgorging her stomach contents once again.
That, then, was our Number Three food-related incident albeit the final one involved somewhat digested food. Sometimes things don’t happen for a reason.