Worse still with my top end bike

expensively minimal clobber, I’d become that most awful of yuppie clichs an all the gear, no idea loser. I decided to make a profound lifestyle change, dealing with the most important issue first: a new bike.

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My name is Dana Sanders, former NFL running back turned fitness trainer

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2 must-try things in Hanoi, Vietnam

Big question to any wanderlusts who are coming to a strange land is “What to eat there?” as the culture differences can be distinguished in the way locals enjoy their meals and others can’t get used to it. But when you drop a visit to a rich food paradise like Hanoi then choosing the best dish maybe should be taken into consideration. Pho (Noodles) to eat and Beer to drink, does it make sense to you? Let’s check out!

Pho (Noodles)

In Vietnam, eating Pho is considered the tradition when it is enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, in a restaurant, from high tables to street vendors, etc. But it is heard that Hanoians are the one to give birth of all types of Pho so it seems that eating Pho in the capital is something more special than other places.

All-kind-of-pho

Can you name these types of noodles?

Pho actually is made of pristine white rice flour noodles that are made daily and sold in markets; however, in my opinion, the thing making Pho so unique is its broth which is particularly boiled from pig or cow bones. The herbs and vegetables used to eat together are available and always fresh, adding to the food art as well.

Not only traditional Beef and Chicken Noodles, Hanoians have varied a wider range of Pho including Steamed Rice Crepe Rolls (Pho Cuon), Crispy Fried Noodles (Pho Chien Phong), Mix Noodles (Pho Tron), and so on.

Delicious beef noodles

Delicious beef noodles

Beer (Bia Hoi, Bia Rau)

Just ask your friends who have been to Vietnam, pretty sure they will recommend you to try the best and cheapest drinks on Earth! “Bia Hoi” is a draght beer, made with no preservatives and delivered in kegs to all bar in Hanoi. Called “bars” but sometimes they are just simple with plastic chairs, no counter, on the pavements full of beer lovers from all walks of life.

Drinking beer is somehow part of local citizens

Drinking beer is somehow part of local citizens

Although there are lots of beer breweries in Hanoi such as Carlsberg, Hanoi, Tiger, 333 but clearly Bia Hoi is the most popular drink because it cost about 7,000 VND for a cup of beer only.

Beer

 

Drop by Ta Hien Str., the noisiest street for foreigners to enjoy beer as well as other specialties of Hanoi here. And don’t be surprise when you are passing groups of men or young boys “yo…yo…yo” or “Bottoms up!!!” They are having so much fun after work then J

Notice: Hanoi is always attractive as the way it appeals visitors, and if you fall in love with Hanoi food and drinks, just take a flight!!! The paper documents are so much easier that you can get Vietnam visa online and get it stamped at the arrival airport then welcome to this wonderful land of scrumptious dishes.

Becoming a man of music: my ukulele lesson

Marky Mark visited Elite Pop Music Training Centre on January 24th, 2016

For my latest deal adventure, I decided to tap into my inner Jason Mraz and try to become one of those guys the girls love but other men hate: the pretentious ukulele player. Seeing how learning the guitar was “too hippie” for me and I’m not cool enough to play the drums, I decided to set my sights on the simple looking mini-me of guitars: the ukulele.

There’s something becoming about a man who can express himself and his thoughts through song. If anything else, playing the ukulele seems something fun to do when you’re drunk on a boat. I signed up on Groupbuyer for 6, 45 minute Ukulele lessons with Elite Music Courses in Mongkok. (This is how much I wanted to learn to play – I was willing to travel to Kowloon, the Shelbyville version of Hong Kong).

Just like most places in Hong Kong, the school was located in a residential building, on the fourth floor. I’ve always wondered how it would feel to be the neighbour of this place – it’s like always having the radio on listening to idiots like me fumble his way around a ukulele.

As I entered the room, I was introduced to my teacher – a young kid with long, moppy hair with glasses. We sat down and he proceeded to hand me and the other student (there were only two people for the class) a ukulele. Mine had cartoon characters on it. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get one with the characters from Disney’s “Frozen” on it but hey – beggars can’t be choosers.

So we get to the basics of the ukulele – how to hold it, how to strum the chords and how to read the notes. Reading the notes is pretty basic and straightforward. All you have to do is commit it to your muscle memory and practice where each finger goes. The hardest part of learning is actually coordinating your fingers. I initially thought that given my propensity and ease of flipping the bird to people that I would have good finger coordination – however learning the ukulele takes everything to a whole new level.

I also learned that I had fat fingers and my hands were too big for the ukulele. I would mash the strings together so my teacher suggested that I play a bigger type of ukulele (did you know there’s different types and sizes of ukuleles?!?!) He got me a Concert ukulele – which was one level up. It was made of wood so I didn’t get any cool cartoon characters but I guess it adds a sense of dignity and respect to the instrument (Too bad that doesn’t translate over to the musician). 

So we learned a few chords and was strumming around. There was a bit of difficulty when he found out that I only spoke English, but somehow, through might and the overabundance use of the term “you press here”, we managed to get our points across.

We got to practice playing a few simple songs like “Amazing Grace” and some random chinese song. At my second class, we learned how to play “Happy Birthday” which was simple yet tricky. I can play it really slow but I’m quite proud of my progress. Happy birthday is a great song to learn since you can play it to everyone. I can totally get chicks with my ukulele and this song. It may not be “I’m yours” but it’s a start.

Interested in learning to play the Ukelele like Marky Mark?  Check out the same Elite Pop Music deal that he got here!

Fresh Modern Kitchen and Bar – Lunch Buffet Review

Marky Mark visited Fresh Modern Kitchen & Bar on December 5th, 2015

As a man that hates nature hikes  and shopping, my options for recreation in Hong Kong is always severely limited. Luckily, given Hong Kong’s sky rocket rent and insatiable thirst for novelty, “tired” restaurants are always closing, to be replaced by something new, shiny and trendy.

Alas, as an undevout Catholic with no meaningful relationships, I’ve resigned myself to spend my free time trying as many restaurants as possible during my time here.

This time, I decided to try Fresh Modern Kitchen and Bar as I always walk pass it whenever I go to La Vache! They say never to judge a book by its cover but no one really believes that crap. We totally judge something by its design. For example, I’ve always been attracted by the Fresh Modern Kitchen’s sign:

fresh-modern-kitchen

I’m a guy who cares about “value” which means that I only buy clothes when they’re red tagged and I’ll only buy day old cookies from Ms Field’s. In this case, I wasn’t about to try this place at full price so I got a deal from Groupon instead. This was the deal on Groupon. It was pretty sweet so I had to get it.

$208 for a Western Semi-Buffet Lunch for 2 People at Fresh Modern Kitchen & Bar (worth $380)

buffet-menu-at-fresh-modern-kitchen

Unfortunately, the Groupon was for two people – which was a problem for me as I said before, I’m unable to sustain or have any meaningful relationships. Then I realized that it was actually a good opportunity for me to take out an attractive girl I knew. She might not be open to being seen with me in public regularly, but maybe a free meal might buy her off.

Luckily, it worked – she agreed to come out for brunch and even agreed to walk beside me on the street and not wear a hat and hockey mask. I felt blessed.

As she didn’t know how to get there, we decided to meet up at Central station and walk over from there. We got to Fresh a little early and they haven’t yet opened. The place opens at 12 so we had to stand outside and chat a bit. Times like these made me wish that I smoked cigarettes so I could look cool doing something rather than keeping my hands in my pockets. Maybe I can be extra douchy and take up vaporized cigarettes? Next groupon.

Finally, it was noon and we went inside. A middle aged Chinese mom had already beat us to the punch and was already seated. The place was obviously still empty and we got to choose where we wanted to sit. We opted for the corner of the room as it overlooked Hollywood road. It was great to people watch on Saturday since you could see all the people doing their walk of shame from a Friday of night of mistakes and regrets. The awkward part was when I saw a colleague doing her walk of shame. I messaged her. Shame. Shame. Shame.

the view from inside the restaurant

As you saw from the earlier picture, the menu consisted of unlimited cold cuts, salads and soup while we got to choose from two mains followed by dessert and coffee/tea. We decided to spread our risk and order both mains to share. We then headed our way to the buffet to take advantage of the food. Again, we were beaten to the punch by the middle aged woman, who’s already elbow deep on the salad and soup.

There was a choice of two salads and a bunch of dressings and toppings – olives, corn, tuna, cheese, potato – it was kind of random. In terms of taste, you can’t really mess up salad. As long as it’s green, that’s pretty much it. The cold cuts were some ham. The soup of the day was cauliflower. It wasn’t bad as well. Again, it’s stuff you can’t really screw up. Oh yeah, there were also some mussels but I’m not a big fan so that went untouched.

After a few rounds, the mains came. The halibut and the pasta with mussels. The portions were just right – it was enough to fill you but not enough to give you food coma. The pasta was average and the halibut was average. Overall okay. It’s the type of place you’d take your mom to  since she wouldn’t complain. Maybe she’d complain about the lighting – it’s a bit dim in there.

Finally, the dessert came with coffee and tea.

The dessert complete with fork imprint

The dessert was average as well. Felt store bought. The coffee was average too. The service was good – the people were nice and were very helpful. When the bill came, it was only for the service charge which was 21 HKD. Since I was a baller, I gave them 30 HKD and told them to keep the change.

Overall, my date was happy – the ambiance was good, her belly was full, and things went smoothly. I’d like to think that it was because I was so charming but that might not be the reason as I spent most of the time stuffing my face with food. Whatever – I’m the guy who took her to Fresh Modern Kitchen.

For those not digging the lunch buffet date at Fresh Modern Kitchen, check out other popular restaurant groupon deals for great dates on a budget.