Frank Stubbs: Vietnam Rocks

13/14: Vietnam 1-7 Arsenal - Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud

Vietnam Rocks!!

For a whole batch of reasons I found Hong Kong a quite fantastic city when we visited this time last year. Of all the destinations we have been lucky enough to experience over the three Asian pre-season trips however, Hanoi probably tops the lot.

'Hectic' is the word I would use but this comes with a huge degree of amazement, craziness, excitement and always with a friendly smile.

Arriving late on Tuesday afternoon, our own personal experience started as darkness descended and Hanoi's incredible 'Old Quarter' came alive.

Its web of tiny streets are packed with street food, bars, restaurants, shops selling literally anything and everything, taxis and motorbikes. So many motorbikes - all travelling at speed with no 'rights of way' whether you are at a junction, pedestrian crossing, a one-way street or even a footpath!

Throw in delivery bikes, be they powered or not, carrying anything from fruit and veg to car windscreens and you'll get the picture!

But somehow it seems to work. We haven't seen one example of 'road rage' and no accidents (although possibly a thousand near misses).

The Stadium

The Stadium

Street wiring Hanoi style!

Street wiring Hanoi style

I am writing these thoughts sat by the Hoan Kiem Lake, the closest thing you'll get to a glimmer of tranquility in the heart of this crazy place. It has given me the opportunity to reflect on the trip so far, the latest instalment being last night's second match of the trip.

Arriving at the stadium, just like in Jakarta you could feel the passion, the surrounding area a mass of noise and colour.

Come kick-off time the atmosphere was immense with the locals obviously hugely excited at the prospect of seeing their national team taking on the mighty gooners.

Similarly to in Jakarta we looked very sharp, something illustrated extremely well by Olivier Giroud of course, his hat-trick completed before half time.

As we battled with the humidity high up in the stand, for me the second half will be remembered for three things.

Four more goals to complete our second seven goal haul of the trip was obviously very pleasing but our hosts' consolation was met with such enthusiasm that we were all delighted to experience it. Simply an amazing concoction of sight and sound.

And then the heavens opened! Almost a daily occurence in most of Asia this time of year it wasn't unexpecting and can be almost refreshing. But you get wet... very wet! Think taking a shower with your clothes on!

In this crazy city everything tends to close down around midnight so most of the travelling Gooners descended on an establishment opposite the stadium that offered an incredible 'all you can eat' buffet. You name it, this buffet had it and all ridiculously cheap too.

Our first night saw two of us have a magnificent slap-up meal and drink the local brew until we were asked to leave and still come away with change out of twenty quid.

Choices for the next few days are numerous. More walking, shopping, sightseeing or maybe a visit to the quite beautiful Halong Bay before we take our next flight to Nagoya.

Or maybe I might just take in a hot stone massage... just how hot it turns out to be will be confirmed in my next update!

Vietnam rocks!


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