Friday, November 02, 2007

HANOI 2007 | Books and Cafe

This is sort of an update - but not quite - on what books I will be bringing to Hanoi. The truth is, I can't tell what will eventually end up in my backpack until the minute before I step out for the airport.


  1. Lonely Planet: Vietnam
    But of course. I use the map inside to get around.

  2. Sodom and Gomorrah Marcel Proust
    I am determined to finish this volume (at least) before the start of 2008.

  3. The Man Who Was Thursday G.K. Chesterton
    Chesterton’s espionage thriller – featuring many characters with red-hair. The frequent out-crop of red-hair contributes greatly a lot to my interest. ;)

Shortlisted but still undecided:

  1. The Dud Avocado Elaine Dundy
    One of my books for the Armchair Traveler Challenge
    The French colonial influence in Vietnam is like a striking dash of colour on a rich canvas – it's so entrenched into its culture and it only makes it more interesting. It's because of this French colour that I alway associate it as "Paris in Vietnam". The Dud Avocado - where a girl goes to Paris, alone.

  2. Journal of a Solitude May Sarton
    An excuse to catch up with my Outmoded Authors reading. I also like the idea of it as a companion to my solitude. Yes, I will be in a city surrounded by a lot of people – but solitude is a state of mind. Much like loneliness. But solitude and loneliness are not the same.

  3. The City in Crimson Cloak Asli Erdogan
    [Translated by Amy Spangler]
    I found out about this title (via Softskull Press) earlier this year when I was pulling together a Turkish reading list for my March trip to Turkey.

  4. The Comedians Graham Greene
    Another for the Armchair Traveler Challenge. Like the start of a bad punchline, the characters – Mr Brown, Major Jones and Mr and Mrs Smith are on a boat headed for Haiti.

  5. Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham
    Will 2007 be the year of Maugham for me?

  6. First Love Ivan Turgenev & 7. The Kreutzer Sonata Leo Tolstoy
    The slim, pocket-sized novellas from the Penguin Great Loves series are so handy to carry around. I thought I do a little warm-up to the 2008 Russian Reading Challenge.

I was also hoping to unwrap a new Moleskine journal for this trip – but it seems the bookstore is out of stock for the Large Plain Notebooks. Ruled and Squared are still available but I always prefer a blank page. This is what happens when I don't stock up.

As I plan to do a bit of reading, I have also been checking out the addresses of some Hanoi cafes where I can just "hang out" with a book, coffee and my all black ensemble.

Hanoi Cafes I Would Like to Check Out

  1. Au Lac, 57 Ly Thai To.
    This upmarket cafe claims to brew Hanoi's best coffee and is a relaxing spot to sip your cappuccino while watching the fitness freaks work out in the Metropole's gym opposite.
  2. Cafe Lac Viet, 46 Le Thai To.
    A quiet and comfy spot for coffees. Head for the sofas on the second floor, browse the bookshelves or catch one of the regular film screenings.
  3. Cafe Lam, 60 Nguyen Huu Huan.
    This musty but atmospheric one-room cafe made its name as a place for artists and young intellectuals to hang out. A few paid their bills with paintings, some of which still adorn the walls.
  4. Caf Quynh, 46b Bat Dan.
    Another traditional haunt of artists and movie buffs hoping to spot the actress owner, Nhu Quynh, star of Cyclo.
  5. Kinh Do Cafe, 252 Hang Bong.
    This so-called cafe 252 became famous after Catherine Deneuve complimented the patron on his yoghurts. The cafe still trades on this anecdote today.
  6. Moca, 14­16 Nha Tho.
    Moca has become something of a favourite for travellers and ex-pats because of its colonial-style decor and western-friendly menu.


Anonymous said...

I love Lonely Planet. It might not have a lot of beautiful colored pictures but practically speaking it's one of the best guide especially if you wish to go beyond what tourists usually do. I've got the LP Malaysia/Singapore/Brunei. For Thailand all I need is a map.

I've been starting a similar project for my upcoming trip. I'm for sure taking 2 books by Maugham: Of Human Bondage and A Gentleman in the Parlour with me.

I plan to finish the armchair traveler challenge before the trip so I don't have to worry about it. I need to decide on at least one book for the Russian challenge.

I also (a most wonderful and pleasant coincidence) make a list of cooffee shops and book/art stores for KL and BKK.

purplefugue said...

Awesome list. But so many books! Haha! I see now what you mean about hoarding Moleskines...can't imagine what it would be like to be caught without one.

Anonymous said...

Choosing books to take is always one of my favorite parts of a trip. You will really like The Man Who Was Thursday!

darkorpheus said...

Matt The Lonely Planet guides are my default guidebooks - but I usually also read a little from other guidebooks - just to see if there have any recommendations that's not in the LPs.

It seems most suitable to do the Armchair Traveler Challenge on your travel, doesn't it? :)

You sound like the perfect travelmate, Matt. The coffee-shops, bookstores, maybe a few art stores.

I visited the new Borders at Times Square (KL) when it first opened. It was sadly understocked back then, and I noticed nobody was really buying books. The Kinokuniya Bookstore at KLCC however was more happening - maybe it's the location. The MPH at Klang Valley was so disappointing.

Ever been to the Kinokuniya at Siam Paragon (BKK) recently? I heard good and bad things about the bookstore - and Siam Paragon and the popcorns at the cinema there. ;) Might make a trip down one day to take a look.

Indigo I love making lists! Keeping to to them however, is another matter. ;p

Oh yes, to be without my Moleskine. That's why I "get it" when you wrote about buying your Moleskines. Hee.

This is why we should always keep some in reserve. I am wondering if I should order the new softcover Moleskine from Amazon UK - but then that means I have to buy in Sterling Pounds, and pay for air shipping.

Why can't Moleskines be cheaper? *whine*

Stefanie I totally intend to love The Man Who Was Thursday. Oh, please keep your eye out for the Father Brown mysteries in your library or bookstores. The stories are really good.

Rebecca H. said...

Sounds like a great trip, and I hope you have a wonderful time! I can't decide what books to take until the last minute either -- I have to go with whatever mood I'm in right when I leave.

Anonymous said...

I adhere to Lonely Planet because of the detailed maps. Every map focuses on a neighborhood, organizes under sights, accommodation, restaurants, information, and transportation.

I consult other travel guides as well for supplementary information.

I spent all day browsing bookstores in Bangkok last time, splitting the time between Kinokuniya at Siam Paragon, B2S (a local chain, also at paragon) and the Asia Books main store on Sukumvit Soi 33. Kinokuniya and Asia Books have very good selection of local titles and English-language titles.

I am staying in Bukit Bintage in KL, and Borders is just a stone's throw away from my hotel, will definitely check it out. I wonder if I can use my Borders Reward Card there? :)

My ideal vacation would be bookstore scouring, hanging out at cafes, art galleries hopping, and visiting historical sites. Not much of a shopper here. :)

And I'll remember to get some chendol!

darkorpheus said...

Dorothy Thanks - definitely intend to just chill in Hanoi. But do you ever get into the kind of dilemma where you can't step out of the house because you're still deciding which books to bring with you?

Matt I'm not much of a shopper either -- which is just find, and easier on my baggage. When I travel with friends I often end up helping them bring stuff home in my backpack - because there's space.

Ah, cold chendol. With lots of coconut milk. I get dreamy just thinking about them.