A few thoughts on HCMC: Part 2 – Cheap Beer

Cheap Beer

Bia Hoi – If having a beer and keeping costs down mean everything, the dong stops here. Beers here are well under 50 cents a pop (it doesn’t matter which cents). Just head up Bui Vien Street from Go2 Bar (heading away from the Crazy Buffalo Bar) and you should see small groups of pasty white folk sitting on something resembling kindergarten size plastic seats being served beer by a leathery old mama-san’s, who probably can speak wonderful English but then again you haven’t paid for it, have you?

If you’re wondering what else you haven’t paid for, don’t fret too much. Here’s an article that’s gone to the trouble of letting us know. Bottom’s up!!

Thi Cafe – A very good choice if you are after cheap drinks but are hoping for more sensitive surrounds than doing whatever it takes to get the cheapest beer possible down your guzzler. Two things stood out about this place the first few times I was taken here about 18 months back. First, it seemed rather homely. There are only shops along this street but this one felt like it had only been someone’s digs no more than a week or two ago. Second, it appeared to be much more fastidiously cleaned relative to most of the other shops in the area, which reinforced the homely impression. If you put on your matronly white glove and did the white

Indeed, there was a sense of unfinished business about the place. This was no piece of M.Poirot style detective masterclass mind you, the smell of fresh lumber and bits of saw dust about the place, which you may point out is a bit of a contradiction, but the attention to detail of the cleaning just gave the impression it was all deliberate and part of their preparations to efficiently deal with the next stray vomit, which was not a bad idea given the happy hour they ran early in the evening, with bottled beers of 333 and Tiger running only to about $1 from opening til about 8:30pm.

The staff to my memory didn’t speak a lot of English (but more than Bia Hoi, in a kinda proportional way) but they were all smiles – and there was never a hint of any beggars given free reign to waltz in and demand your loose change.

All this homeliness gave the impression bets were being hedged lest the cafe-cum-bar idea didn’t work out the way they’d dreamed it. And at times that seemed a good idea, as they when I was first setting foot in here 18 or so back, they were struggling to get crowds, so much so we were asked to sit downstairs to create the impression to passers by the place was not dangerous to come into.

All the same it was one place I would have wished well, and happily enough upon my return about 6 months later, it was absolutely packed and was firmly on the radar of expats especially teachers along with a few backpackers which you would inevitably have walk through the door given the location.

So packed in fact, we had to be kicked upstairs.


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