Tea with the locals and helping the community – Train Street, Hanoi, Vietnam

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I’m addicted. Addicted to the train street, the community and the story on how it all got started. It’s so hard to leave this place. I have been coming here 4 days in a row now. These people are like my family. The kids know me, they come and give me hugs, the locals smile at me and the staff of The Railway Hanoi are close friends. This feels like home.

My friend Thao invited me to come and drink tea with the locals on the tracks. It’s one of her favorite parts of the day here. Every morning the locals gather for tea. They sit on plastic chairs next to the track. Everyone talks to each other. They talk about their family and friends. They share stories and laughs. It’s an amazing time to come. Everyone is free to join. A fresh tea only costs 2000 VND (0.075 EUR).

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People come for tea after 9 am. You are also free to come for tea. The young girls give shoulder massages to the elder. Everyone is helping each other. It’s just amazing to see.

Yesterday a new Banh Mi place opened in the street. Thao is going to paint the menu on the wall. She asks me if I want to help. I gladly accept. I’m not a painter, but we will manage.

Breakfast

Before we go and paint the wall, Thao invites me to her favorite breakfast place. On the way back we will buy the paint for the Banh Mi place.

On the way to the breakfast place, we pass through the French quarter. This is the military area. The old French buildings are being reused by the military. You are not allowed to take pictures here. You are not even allowed to stand still and specially not allowed to have your phone out. There even are some buildings where foreigners have to walk all the way on the other side of the street.

The breakfast place is near 176 Quán Thánh, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam. It’s some type of fish soup with noodles. I forgot the name of it, sadly. The front of the place looks like this.

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We got a whole lot of food. My friend Thao eats a lot! She participated in eating competitions before. I had only 1 bowl, meanwhile she ate 4 ?.

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The dish was absolutely delicious! I had soy milk with mine. The soy milk costs 12000 VND (0.45 EUR) and the food was 50000 VND (1.90 EUR). It’s so cheap and super delicious.

Painting the Banh Mi place

Now it’s time to get the paint and head back. This is the first time I’m really going to do social work like this. It just feels right to do this. This whole community is so nice. It welcomed me like home and I’m excited to do something back and to keep this place amazing for others.

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Here is my friend Thao starting the drawing on the wall. In the middle we will have a Banh Mi sandwich and next to it all the ingredients. Below it we will add the options and pricing.

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This is the sketch of the menu. We are about to start painting the wall.

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Here is me and Thao painting the wall ? This is my first time doing a painting. Thao did most of it. I helped a lot with painting it in.

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Almost done now. Time to finish it! We also added ‘Banh Mi’ on the stall itself and a character of the owner ‘Madam Thi’.

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We did it! We finished all the paintings. This is us with the owner ‘Madam Thi’ of the Banh Mi place. She is so happy with the result. This gave me an amazing feeling, doing something for someone else. Tomorrow is my last day in Hanoi. These people have welcomed me like home. I’m so grateful for all the amazing friends I made here. I can’t wait to come back, I will absolutely miss every single one of them!

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