Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Ka Ching Bat Trang
Every time I visit Hanoi I go to Bat Trang, about 10km away. Every time I get here I am reminded that the correct pronounciation is Bat Chang, which makes me think of ka-ching. If they had cash registers, that's what they would say.
Bat Trang is the world's brick center (the world, yes) and VN's pottery and ceramics center. It's a tiny village, with a tourist ox cart, and heaps of dishes. Normal people would spend half a day here, but we have been many times and knew what we wanted. So we stayed for about a half hour and bought what we wanted and then headed back to the hotel.
Although the plates were $7 and the bowls $4, the car and driver cost $80, so perhaps there were no bargains. But as the Visa ad says-- experience: priceless. Besides, Sarah and I each brought a roll of bubble-wrap from Walmart ($4 per) and saved our newspapers daily so we were born to pack. Note that we arrived home w/o breakage.
Some day I will perhaps retire to this area and open a UPS station because people would buy ever so much more in Bat Trang if shipping was easy. There is Fed Ex and UPS and even DHL in Saigon,and I guess there are also offices in Hanoi, but my little sub station will make me rich in dong. The flash of $4 vases and $20 flower basins is just too alluring to let it all go by in a moment's worry about the 20k weight restriction on Viet Nam Airlines.
So please come back next time you're in Hanoi, I'll be just out the newly rebuilt Banana Highway (I will be rebuilding it-- and naming it-- myself) and I plan to open a tract development ( Bat Trang Heights? The Groves? Yes, that's better!)and a Safeway. Houses will be equipped with all the standard features...plus dishes.