They reopened the pubs so it's pub crawl time!
To say that we were kind of excited when the government lifted the restrictions on what was allowed to be open and where we were allowed to go would be an understatement. We were just ecstatic and plans were immediately put into motion about visiting all of the pubs on a single night.
The rules of this journey were simple: We go to 13 pubs and never stay at any of them for more than 1 or 2 drinks. Whether or not anyone else was inside the pub when we arrived was irrelevant, we were required to go in regardless.
Our day began at 4:30 pm and ended at I don't know what time because I don't remember being at the last 2 bars. I barely remember being at the 11th.
Our day began at a place that had a very unfortunate grand opening date that was exactly 1 day before the government shut everything down for 2 months. It is called Beach Beer and it now occupies a spot where one of the longest-running and most famous bars in the area used to be. The old bar was called Apocalypse Now and they folded when international tourism was closed off last March. This place has real potential because unlike their predecessors they are not ripping you off for drinks. Even with their stellar beachfront location they still only charged about 20% more than what you would pay normally... and this is fair.
The second bar is a place that none of us have ever been to called American Bar and even though the owner was outside sweeping up the leaves when we came by and asked him if he was open, he said "no." Considering that there was about a dozen of us at the time I think this was a really dumb decision on his part especially considering that it is really difficult to get customers right now. So we ended up at Filling Station (pictured above) and had 2 drinks there to make up for the one closed bar.
This place is a bit of an institution among drinkers in the Da Nang expat community because their operating hours are "whenever." There are stories of this place staying open all night and even of the owners just telling the customers to lock up when they leave and operate on the honor system from that point forward. It's a pretty great place for people watching in a normal year but since no one is around anymore, there wasn't much to watch. This was ok because we brought a crowd with us.
Next stop was Sandbar Pub which is a regular hangout for us. This is a bar that I have complained about in the past about having terrible acoustics that really needs to be addressed. We know the owner here so we have been straight-forward with him about how he needs to address this. We only had one beer at this place because we brought enough people with us to make the noise level unbearable inside. We also lost a few of our older members at this point because they didn't want to take on the rest of the journey with us. Our numbers were reduced to 4 but we actually gained a member that was at Sandbar when we arrived.
Next we went to Hanh and Ken's which is a Vietnamese restaurant that nobody would drink at if it weren't for the owner, Ken. It's not a terribly comfortable place and I can't tolerate sitting on elementary school stools for very long, so we only stuck around here for a single beer. Nice guy, terrible furniture.
Next up was Oi! Bar which used to be called Buddha Bar but according to legend they were forced by the government to change the name since there is a famous Buddhist monument in the city and I guess someone thought the naming of the bar was offensive. I dunno. This is a place that I would normally just walk past since there is almost never anyone inside of it, but because of the pre-defined rules we were obligated to have a beer here.
The next spot was Krazy Kats, and I forgot to take a photo because the booze was starting to take hold. It's a mosquito pit so staying for just one drink was appropriate.
Next up was is a bar that I had never been into before and it was wildly popular before Covid and the government chased away 60% of the expat population. At first I was excited when I saw they had a free fooseball table in the back because this was my game of choice back when i was in college. I quickly lost my enthusiasm because since this table is stored outside in the heat, humidity, and even probably a bit of rain when it comes in sideways, the table was lopsided as hell and the ball kinda just went wherever. Whoever was playing for one side of the table was almost certainly going to win because if you got the ball down to the opposing side's defense the table was warped towards the goal. Lame.
Next up was Roadhouse which is a mediocre burger place combined with a bar with seriously cheap drinks that the bartenders overpour on almost anything. If you like a strong drink this is the place to go because they simply freepour. If you want a cocktail that tastes the way that it is supposed to, this is not the place for that since everything you order just tastes like straight spirits.
You can tell by the fact that the pic is out of focus that I am losing a lot of my motorskills at this point. I also have very hazy memory of everything that happens after this bar.
We next went to a place called Sleeping Dog that has a shuffleboard table. This is very rare in Vietnam and the owner must have had it made or imported at great expense.
Apologies for the horrible pic but the entire bar had this annoying flashing green light going on that I didn't even remember until I late looked at this image
According to my teammate (who I found out was my teammate days later) our strategy of simply knocking the other team's pucks off the table with no regard to where ours were going to land ended up working.
Next up are the 2 bars that I have no recollection of being at in any capacity. I wasn't sure that we had actually made it all the way through the crawl until told about it the next day.
This place is called Section 30 and they specialize in craft beers - which I never order. They had a pretty decent crowd considering the general lack of people in the area at the moment but this is one of the more popular bars and one of the few remaining "foreigner areas" in the city that still has a decent amount of people in it.
Our last stop was at Shamrock Bar and i didn't even take this photo and instead got it off the internet. I am quite certain that we ended up having an unwanted shot of Sambuca while we were in here since the owner Patrick kind of insists that everyone have one while visiting. This bar is open 24 hours a day and even though I very rarely am out really late at night I was in there one time at 5 am for a sporting event and really felt bad for the bartender who was at that point tolerating some extremely drunk patrons that had been there all night.
I behaved myself all night. I am no stranger to booze. The mistake I made was that at no point during our 7 hour session did I have anything to eat and I didn't eat very much before we started. Thankfully, one of the guys who made it from start to finish lives in my building and he had some gourmet mac n cheese things that he had ordered and kept in the fridge from a French restaurant. Although almost anything would have tasted like a Michelin rated meal at that point, it was the perfect end to a great evening.
Being able to do this is one of the great features of this part of town since all of this was done on foot. I don't think there are very many places that I have lived in USA that there wouldn't at least be some amount of taxis involved in the process if I had wanted to pull this off there. It was a great night and everyone had a fantastic time. We'll do it again in the future I am sure.