Nomad friendly? Yes!
After looking at my spreadsheet (yes I track this kind of thing) I realised that I had logged 99 unique #officeoftheday setups since I had started this journey. I should pick somewhere special for tomorrow, I mused.
A slow to start the morning and pressing deadlines had left me stressed, hungry and pushing up close to midday. It was time to spring into action. I searched for healthy eating on TripAdvisor and found a shortlist of cafes. I can’t say exactly what made me pick this one but it was chosen and we got into the Grab.
Wow. I’m so happy I selected it. They have really healthy options, pretty much across the board but they also have a separate low carb meals section. Each of these low carb options has an enticing photo, and also something very rare for Southeast Asia: a calorie count next to them!
They have a video running on a loop which shows a happy gym user running on a treadmill, with perfect hair and not a drop of sweat. Later she is in the cafe, smiling and laughing as her boyfriend lovingly spoons some greens into her mouth. Classic marketing maybe but while we were there a buff, gym-using looking guy did actually pull up on his moped, sit down for a healthy meal and then went on his way again. A vote of confidence for the quality of the food here.
Visually, the place has got some nice stylings. There are bookshelves in the background adding a nice intellectual ambience. Upon closer inspection, Giang tells me they are mostly old law books. They have also got a sprinkling of old film cameras laying about giving it a slight hipster vibe. Some greenery and interesting lighting finishes off the look of the place – one of the windows, for example, has tea cups and saucers hanging upside down as the light shades.
As we spent the afternoon there it did get a bit hot. They had fans in the roof and a row of four air conditioning units but only two were running. There was also some ground level, floor standing fans but the one next to the table we picked wasn’t working.
You might think that because I’m out here travelling the world that I’m a super confident person. That I can do anything and not even flinch.
That is not the case.
As a fine, upstanding British person I just sat there getting hotter by the passing hours. I tried the fan again in case it magically worked but that’s as far as I got. Sure I could have just gone and asked the waitresses if they could do anything but I was busy running scenarios in my head instead.
Had I spent enough money to still be here? Was I being cheeky asking them to give me more free electricity when I was already entrenched in the corner, powering my laptop and phone? Would the request be understood or cause confusion?
Finally I ventured to Giang, “It’s a bit warm in here isn’t it?” Translation: there was sweat dripping down my face.
She looked up from her laptop, “Yes” she said, more in comfort than in agreement. We decided to order another round of drinks and she would use the opportunity to ask about the fan situation.
A minute or two later a fan started spinning up behind me.
“Oh. I guess the fan wasn’t broken after all”, I said, cringing internally at my inability to simply plug something in.
“No”, she replied, “its a different one”.
I looked around and saw the waitress was, in fact, swapping over the units and taking away the broken one.
My embarrassment was already melting away as the cool air massaged my back with each twist of its oscillation.
Sample menu items
I guess the shop isn’t aimed at tourists because the prices are sooo low. My main cost 49k VND which is £1.64. For this:
I really can’t get over the price of this place. I’m used to a cheap meal, but that usually comes with turning a blind eye to the amount of oil used, some grime here and there, or breathing in the air pollution from eating next to a main road.
This place is spotlessly clean, has everything focused on health, and is courting a local clientele so the prices are perfect.
Some other meals we have eaten in the last few days:
Cheapest menu item: Low Carb Tofu Meal 39k VND
Average main menu item: 89k VND
Smoothies: 49k VND for a range of very tasty smoothies
Coffee: 25k VND for Vietnamese coffee
Ahh, the coffee. This is really the undoing of this place. It’s such a shame they don’t offer a nice filtered Americano. I’m not a huge fan of the Vietnamese coffee. I’m double not a fan of what they served here. It was super strong which I guess is good but it flooded my mouth like an army invading my taste buds.
I decided to take it down in two gulps and quickly reached for the water.
A few minutes later Giang picked her cup up and went in for a sip, not having seen my reaction. A noise rooted somewhere in shock came from her. Yeah, its a bit strong isn’t it I said. She ended up topping it up three times with the free service water. She likes her coffee cold so diluting it down this way was a good solution for her.
The second day, however, we went back and agreed that it was just for lunch and a few hours of productivity. We still plugged in but when the energy levels started flagging we got back into the Grab and went on our way.
As you may have gathered, this is a nomad friendly place. The tables are all square, good for the wrists. Later in the day, I saw one other westerner come in. A girl that quickly unpacked her computer and sat there flipping between her delicious looking meal and typing on her computer. The next day some locals were gathered around a laptop. Today I’m sat behind somebody who looks busy on their laptop.
Power socket wise this is a bit of a weakness. The sockets are all on the tables down the right-hand side of the building, as you face it from the street. This gives you the option of a few tables, a longer 8 person group table and four solo-ish counter-top style seats pointing out the window into the lane down the side.
The rest of the tables are laptop friendly but the clock starts ticking on your battery life when you sit down.
When we first arrived somebody was eating at the table we wanted. We started ordering the food and snagged the table after the other person finished. The second day that table was gone again but we got another power-enabled table easily. The third day I have snagged the corner seat which is my personal favourite.
Yes! It’s not perfect but definitely go for the healthy food and stay for a few hours – until you need a power socket or a coffee.