Loungin' in Laos, hangin' in Hanoi.

Xinchao friends and family. Amigo Noah reporting poolside at the Sofeteil Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam. This is hands down my favorite hotel, I'm sure the other Amigos concur, and we will all be sorry to leave it tomorrow morning when we fly to Hue to perform at a big festival there. www.huefestival.com/index.php

This hotel is old and beautiful, built in a Classic French style, with a lavish breakfast buffet, fragrant flower bouquets everywhere, and an very friendly staff. There is an old bomb shelter built underneath the hotel and a big wall display of all the famous people who have stayed here. 

 

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but I could go on and on about the niceties and perks of staying at a five star French hotel. I'm hear to get down to the meat and potatoes of Laos and Vietnam. 

I know we have been a little lazy about posting, so I'll try to focus on the subject that is the namesake of this blog.  

Vientiane's own take on the Arc de Triomphe, called Patuxai. 

Vientiane's own take on the Arc de Triomphe, called Patuxai. 

well it sorta turns out that I don't have any pictures of food from Laos. How is that possible. I must have been eating it too quickly. The Lao government built Patuxai in the center if Vientiane in 1968. Apparently the US Government gave them a bunch of cement to construct a new runway for their airport, and instead the Lao government decided they would just use the supplies to make a monument. I think they made the right choice, and besides, it's much more exciting to land on a dirt runway anyways. Our last day in Vientiane we went out to a small day school for local children called Donkoi. We were greeted by a rowdy welcome song with flowers and drums, and the US Ambassador and his wife showed up as well. It was a special treat for two reasons; that was the first time those children had seen western music before, let alone live music, and that was the second country where the ambassador came to our gig (Myanmar was the first). The kids were very excited to see us play and afterwards they sang and danced for us, then invited us to participate in a game of "hop over the bamboo stick."

Amigos Justin and Sam, along with Mr Ambassador, receiving a water blessing from the school headmaster.  

Amigos Justin and Sam, along with Mr Ambassador, receiving a water blessing from the school headmaster.  

Our first day in Hanoi was a full rest day, but our second day consisted of a morning and evening show at two different universities in two different provinces. It was a true marathon, and like any marathon, there was a mid day banquet to complete it.  After our morning show, the "mayor" of the province along with several people from his entourage and the university, invites us to a lunch feast. They had salmon prepared three-ways, which is a very new and unusual thing for Vietnamese, but we were told that it was for special occasions. The first salmon dish was raw, like sashimi, and came with rice paper and different fillings for a "do it yourself" spring roll. The second salmon was fried filets with garlic. And the third was more filets with veggies and soy sauce.… or something like that. Oh yeah, and we had rice soup with salmon in it and a second soup with crab. The thing about these extreme banquets is that everybody must drink a lot, especially the special guests (the amigos) and their hosts. First comes wine toasts, then comes the local rice liquor (which was actually quite smooth), and by the end of it, everybody is chugging anything in site. It is the custom in many of these countries for each guest to walk over to the host and toast him and flatter him. Even our public affairs officer accompanying us from the embassy had to take down several drinks. By the end of it, everybody at the table was drunk, the amigos stumbled into our van on the way to our next university show, and the locals stumbled off to bed most likely. 

The public affairs officer taking care of some unfinished business after the feast.  

The public affairs officer taking care of some unfinished business after the feast.  

fresh pomelo and chili salt for dessert. 

fresh pomelo and chili salt for dessert. 

Well That's all I can recall about that day. We taught some classes at a conservatory here in Hanoi this morning, then we have a big public concert tonight. Very excited. Stay tuned Amigos, as our journey comes to an end, we will surely continue to post more on The Spicy Special. 

Amigo Sam being invited for a toast… whether he likes it or not.  

Amigo Sam being invited for a toast… whether he likes it or not.