You have travelled literally half way across the globe from your hometown in suburbia NH to the chaotic metropolis of Hanoi, Vietnam. You have crammed yourself into a middle seat for the 19 hour flight travelling over 8,000 miles. After a month abroad, your body (and mind) has only recently acclimated to the daily 100°+ temperatures and 12 hour time difference. You couldn’t be further from a Dunkin Donuts. In fact, your diet has consisted of not much more than bánh chưng, bánh mì and phở (with the occasional chè on cheat day am I right?). You have spent the majority of USD you converted to đồng (actual name for Vietnamese currency) on pajama pants, sun hats and moped rentals. In fact you have made it rain đồng. You have handed out more đồng in Vietnam than you can keep track of.
Note: I understand that these pants/hat are classic white foreigner in Vietnam but I’ll be damned if they aren’t the most comfortable things I have ever worn.
You are tired, sunburnt and you haven’t had a solid bowel movement in weeks. But it is the summer of 2016 and the UEFA European Championship is in full swing. Maybe a nice cold beer and a sport you recognize on TV will transport you back to home, if only for a few hours. But in the back of your head you know that finding restaurants with menus written in English has been a tough enough task, never mind a bar with Western sports on TV. Nonetheless, you type “sports bar Vietnam” into the google search field and click “I’m Feeling Lucky.” A lengthy loading process ensues, as is tradition in Vietnam, and the resulting google page displays only a few paltry options. The Puku Café sounds interesting but not promising for sports. Then, your eyes land on “O’Leary’s Vietnam – Ba Trieu.” A quick internet translation tells you it means “O’Learys Vietnam – Three Million.” No idea what three million has to do with anything but there is no time to waste!
You hop on your moped and navigate the currents through the ocean of traffic until you finally stumble across your destination. You leave your moped directly in the sidewalk path, as is tradition in Vietnam, and scurry into the restaurant with fingers crossed.
And as you walk into that bar, a mere 8,068 miles from Gillette Stadium, you are greeted to this sight:
It was enough to make a grown man cry. It was a goddamn Boston themed sports bar in the middle of Hanoi, Vietnam. Tom Brady’s unmistakable face plastered all over the wall. In a bar located in what was capital of NORTHERN Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It is literally a seven minute walk to the Hỏa Lò Prison where John McCain was held captive until 1973. Less than a mile.
If this doesn’t prove that Tom Brady’s appeal truly is universal then I don’t know what does. You don’t need to understand football or the English language to appreciate the mystique of Tom Brady. The beauty of Tom truly is the world’s unspoken language. A man whose popularity spans all 7 continents. The greatest living American? Nay, the greatest living human.
And you better believe I enjoyed the shit out of O’Learys. If you don’t think I ordered the “Bobby Orr Bacon Burger” then you are out of your goddamn mind. I literally ordered two full meals, rack of ribs as an appetizer and BBQ burger as my main course. I was as happy as a pig in shit. As happy as a dog with two tails. They had to roll me out of O’Learys.
I think it is safe to say I stuck out like a sore thumb though. How do I know, you ask? Well, a local news crew asked me for an interview because, I’m assuming, I am white. I can’t imagine the interview ever made it to air though. After every answer I gave, the interviewer just gave me that classic blank stare, nod, half-smile combo which is universal for “I don’t have a fucking clue what you just said.” Either that or they aired an interview of a drunk white American who answered questions about a soccer game by raving about the Patriots décor inside O’Learys.
Alternatively, it has crossed my mind that they only interviewed me in order for the Vietnamese government to register me in their system and track my movements. If so, well played.
Anyways, if you are ever passing through Hanoi, here is my official TripAdvisor review of “O’Learys Vietnam Three Million”
All jokes aside, if you ever have a chance to visit Vietnam I highly recommend it. It truly is an amazing country; the people, the natural beauty and the cuisine are all world class. And the flight might be expensive to get there but once you are there everything is dirt cheap. You will be a đồng millionaire as soon as you step off the plane.
Written by Greg Brown
1 December 2017
Written by Greg Brown
19 February 2018
Written by Greg Brown
15 December 2017