The discrete outfit Heart of the Sound Productions (H.O.T.S), who brought the talents of WHYT NOYZ, JOOP JUNIOR and AFFKT to South African shores, is at it again with their alternative endeavours into the wide world of house and techno. This year they have forgone bringing the sound that excites them to S.A. and are instead, in association with HAUSWORK and Triplefire Music, taking a little bit of S.A. to the world.
More directly to QUEST FESTIVAL in Vietnam this November.
After HAUSWORK performed there last year, the H.O.T.S team secured the opportunity to run bespoke river boat party cruises on the lake surrounding the venue, in a similar fashion to the ones that were the stuff of legend at Make-Believe a couple seasons back.
For any MCBN followers with a sense of adventure, we have managed to get the low down on what exactly the whole thing entails, what to expect and some inside information on how to get there and what to do.
And the best part is that it is still affordable, even for South Africans!!
Quest takes place at Son Tihn Camp about 40 minutes outside of Hanoi on the bank of Dong Mo Lake. This year it runs from November 10-12.
It is a vibrant and incredibly well-managed arts festival that Capetonians could liken to a blend of all the best bits of AfrikaBurn, Daisies and aspects of the smaller summer festivals.
It has steadily grown over the years and become a globally recognised festival listed amongst some of the world’s finest; https://www.everfest.com/e/quest-festival-vietnam-hanoi-vietnam
This year sees the numbers increasing to 5000, and it sells out every year.
Multiple stages cover a wide range of music and this year the classic sounds of The Orb are amongst the headliners. Whilst the Asian techno sound is on point, the rock and, especially, metal scene in S.E.A is also a force to be reckoned with!
This is also what contributes to one of the best aspects of Quest, it is a community, a melting pot and a kaleidoscope of art and culture coming together for one weekend, in the jungle.
- WHAT TO EXPECT
Miles of smiles. Great music that has a little something for everyone. The best food at a festival… ever! Incredible performers. A feeling of being part of something, rather than just being at something. Everyone is a participant. Heat (it cooks). Really excellent sound (you’ll be blown away by how good it is!).
Find out more for yourselves here: http://questfestival.net/
Hanoi is, at first glance, chaotic and hectic, but you quickly realise that it is just a city that hustles.
In November the weather starts to turn and it becomes pleasantly warm. There isn’t much rain either and NO WIND!!!! Think along the lines of your best summer days in Cape Town you wish you had more of.
If you are considering accommodation in Hanoi we’d recommend VIETNAM BACKPACKER HOSTELS and be sure to check out their 3 other “hostels” dotted throughout Vietnam. (They really redefine the idea of “backpacker”. Nihnvana, for example, has bungalows on the beach and yoga by the pool!!)
Whatever your budget, you ideally want to be situated somewhere near Old Town or Tay Ho whilst in Hanoi.
- GETTING THERE
Without doubt the best and most cost-effective flights to the entire Southeast Asian region are with KENYA AIRWAYS. But everything to the region on any carrier is multiple stop-overs from S.A. and anything around 16 hours journey time is good. If you go with Kenya Airways, and are smart with your booking, you can time it so you land in Nairobi, go through duty free (grab some vodka to take with you – trust us 😉!) and then walk straight on to one of KA’s shiny new 787-800’s that run this route.
- A bit of advice; look at flights ex-Jo’burg. Booking from Cape Town can add up to 7k to a flight!
Also, if you are planning on doing some travelling in the region you can fly in to Hanoi and out of Bangkok, for example, for the same price with Kenya.
- GETTING OUT OF TOWN
Planes, trains and automobiles (and hydrofoil). Flights are cheap. And, unlike here, a low-cost airline, the likes of VIETJET, has a fleet of new planes to the other major local destinations and jumping-off points (Hoi An, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok etc).
Trains are a necessary evil, but are comfortable, inexpensive and, most importantly, SAFE!
- Top Tips: The little bit extra for the little bit of extra comfort on some routes can be a blessing. Overnight trains mean one night less accommodation to pay for. The Hanoi – Ho Chi Mihn train takes 2 nights. Try to avoid catching the train on the second night of its journey if you can’t hold it in. The toilets get rough.
Automobiles: not going to sugar coat it, there’s a reason why foreigners are not allowed to drive in Vietnam! But once you realise that everyone actually drives at a reasonable speed and has courtesy and that even if someone is driving the wrong way down a road (it happens often and is never by accident), as long as everyone keeps doing what everyone else expects them to do, then there’s no problem. Never saw even one accident or even recall anyone aggressively hooting or hurling abuse.
- To note: crossing the road in Hanoi is going to require a certain amount of courage at first.
Hydrofoil – this is your best option for getting to a place like Cat Ba Island. And you should get to Cat Ba. You really should. You can take a train or a cab or shuttle to the ferry point.
WHERE TO GO
Hoi An – There’s a VIETNAM BACKPACKER HOSTEL there too now. The old town is a mix of old temples and elevated cultural offerings, like world class cuisine and art galleries, markets, an obligatory Irish Pub, “sports bar” and, of course, the legendary BEBE TAILORS who will have a suit or watermelon print romper (don’t do it!) made for you in 24 hours. On the beach are a multitude of rustic and cheap seafood places.
Da Nang – Hit Marble Mountain. But walk it. Else you will miss the, somewhat hidden, very steep steps to the summit and just end up at the viewing point with every other fat / old tourist. The negative comments online are from those who have never seen the view from the top.
Hue – the Imperial City – well… what’s left of it (thanks ‘merica). Worth a wander. Be sure to feed the gigantic koi in the ponds.
- Top Tip: get a private transfer from Hoi An to Hue. You’ll get to see the Hai Van Pass, have seafood lunch in Lang Co and, if it isn’t still a raging torrent from the rains, have a swim at Elephant Falls.
Phong Nha – Amazing cave system. Probably the only thing that is recommended to do through a tour guide, but GEMINI HOTEL (recommended) in Dong Hoi can hook that up.
- Top tip: make sure you do the Dark Cave trek and invest in wet/dry shoes before you travel.
Cat Ba – See if you can get a deal at Cat Ba Beach Resort – you’ll have your own beach. And hit up the owner / manager at the GREEN MANGO (easily found on the main strip and with Google maps). He will hook you up with the best places to have fresh seafood (beer boiled crab for the win!!) and his “uncle” will be able to take you to the floating fishing villages and Monkey Island on a day trip.
Nha Trang – Phu Quoc – Ho Chi Minh – Ninh Binh are all still very much on the to-do list.
Street food – especially the noodle soup called; pho. It’s all super cheap and really good. And you can trust it.
Coffee – forget all you know. Even if you never drink coffee, try it. Ca phe Viet and ca phe sua are starting points. Level up to coconut coffee when ready. Dare to try a yoghurt coffee after that. CONG makes Vida look like it makes pissy black water.
Beer – CHEAP!!!! And all are great. Ha Noi and Chang for the win!
KFC – yeah. We know. But… Trust.