I am not a writer. I am just the person who is addicted to travels and has passion for capturing every single piece of traveling memories in words
I have been sad that my phone was broken. It means that I can’t temporarily upload any picture of what I draw to illustrate for my story of “It’s okay. That’s Vietnam”.
Instead, I decide to upload a relevant picture and still continue the thread so that you would not have to wait any longer for the next post. Here we go.
Well, I am not gonna talk about bicycle or street vending (which is quite unique and seems to only happen in Vietnam). What I am talking about is what usually happens to us while enjoying our roadside drinking in Vietnam.
If you have ever come to Vietnam, especially Hanoi, you may notice that through Hanoi road pavement (sidewalk) or parks, there are a lot of food/ drink stalls that are simply “established” or set up with only some small chairs (Small, I mean it!).
By the way, that kind of red small chairs is what the students use at greeting flag session in the school play yard every Monday morning. Kinda a piece of our childhood and “school hood” memories.
Those stalls serve you a lot of drinks and sometimes together with food. You may try them at least once since it is considered as one of our popular culture. Just look at the number of people sitting and drinking iced tea in the pavement and you will see!
By the way, you should try: iced tea (“tra da” in Vietnamese, which is quite strong and bitter for those who are not used to yet), lemon iced tea (“tra chanh” in Vietnamese), sugar cane juice (“nuoc mia” in Vietnamese)… Most of beverages that you could find in roadside stalls are supposed to cost less than 10.000 VND. Keep it in mind!
Aww, we should be focusing on what I wanna tell you only.
For so many times, while we were drinking our iced tea in the pavement, the owner of the “shop” suddenly stood up and asked all of us to carry the small chairs and our drinks up. She moved all of her stuff. Really. We were kinda surprised and embarrassed not knowing what to do next at the very first time. But time goes and by now we all know that what happens.
It’s the police. They were coming. They were using their loudspeakers to ask all the “shops” in the pavement to go away since the pavement is supposed for pedestrians and absolutely not for business stuff like these. By that time, all the shops “disappeared” already.
How? What was left is only few of us standing talking with a glass of drink in hand, some of us were holding chairs. All other chairs were taken away with their owners. Anything left by the carelessness of the owners such as chair/ parachute/… would be towed away by the police. That scene happened quickly and no body really bothered about that. Since we are all used to it now.
Guess what was next? The police disappeared at the end of the street, the owner showed up and we were allowed to continue our talk and drinking.
That kind of scene happens almost day by day that makes me wonder what the role the police is playing. They want to prevent people from doing something illegal (that is doing business on the pavement), why don’t they try to get it done. All they do is just coming and going, coming and going, with their loudspeakers to let others know that “Here we are the police…”.
The owner of the stall near my school once told us that before the police came, they all received a message to inform they were coming. In order to receive that message, they need to pay a monthly fee that we of course have no idea about. It’s the dark side that we should not know of.
For me, I of course don’t want the roadside drinking stalls to be banned to show up. I want them to be there as a feature of Hanoi popular culture. What I have been dreaming of is that the police/ the government will really do something on it. So that, we don’t have to worry about them coming and have to stand up; and the owners can be left comfortable doing their business.