Thursday, 23 February 2012

The joy of shopping in Hanoi

At any given moment on Tạ Hiện street, you'll find a tourist photographing this window for the Creative Oriental Crafts Kingdom
Image from here.

[Since my innocent post on cockfighting ended up on a website for penis healthcare, I cannot wait to see what exciting opportunities arise from this one.]

This sign is clearly no accident, but an excellent business strategy, as confirmed by the store-owner in this blog

It plays to an already well-established practice of tourists taking photos of Vietnamese signs, usually featuring the words "hung" and "bong" and "dong" and "dung" and "phuc". Once you become familiar with Vietnamese pronunciation, these signs sadly become less amusing. But rest assured, I'm not entirely above it all:
You'd think that after 2.5 years of enjoying Vietnam's premier ice-creamery, Nathan would have gotten sick of "Fanny" gags, but no, he hasn't. Every time we go there - yes, sometimes for all-you-can-eat Fanny - I have to hear about how he's going to put his dong into Fanny, etcetera. Never gets tired.

Maybe these stores all buy their signs from here:
Meta.


Shop names in Hanoi seem to run along a number of themes, much like the hotel namesThere's the straight-talking ones, pretty unambiguous in promoting their products:
Or their sales channel:
Hmm, not actually, though.


Or the kind of customer they're after (presented in ascending order of nattiness): 
If you're wondering what "men on TV" wear, it's this:
 
Damn straight, that's a leopard-print tuxedo jacket.


As with the hotels, there are also the stores which employ the "irresistible adjective" technique:
For when you need something, you know, classy and fabulous, to wear on a date with, just for example, a man on TV.


But the irresistible adjectives adopted by store owners sometimes take a strange turn, like this:
And this:
"Mysterious" isn't a quality I tend to look for in fashion. However, I can imagine some mysterious clothes being teamed quite nicely with something from here:
Then there are the shops which, through no real fault of their own, just can't help but play right into my puerile hands:
Coffee does that to you too, huh? 

And also provide a lesson in why attempting wordplay in a second language is a very risky thing indeed:
Oh, Fartshion, you're my absolute favourite. No business strategy in the world could contrive to come up with that.

33 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Hanoi makes it all too easy. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. The "Bum" shop is pretty amusing in Vietnamese as well, it's an onomatopoeia for for "fartshion".

    The COCK store is pretty amazing. It does on first glance, look like the typical lost in translation sort of sign. Then it's even funnier to think that the owner knew exactly what she was doing :D. I'll probably have to check it out now.

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    1. Haha, I love a "bum" joke that works in multiple languages!

      And as for COCK, it's kind of disappointing when anything's been contrived to look accidental, but I'm also uber-impressed at the business savvy.

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    2. I am the Cock shop owner. You can contact with me with me email or facebook address: lovejethro@yahoo.com. I guarantee you will love to try my Cock

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  3. You beat me to it! In my next post, I was going to write about and display my own set of beloved hilarious Hanoi signs, and both COCK and Fartshion are in the set. Fartshion is actually the only one that inspires pity from me because I think it's such a clever idea that's just happened to go so terribly wrong. Mitchell giggles uncontrollably every time it comes up in conversation.

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    1. Yeah yeah, sure you were. In my next post I'm going to write about how my name's Sarah and how I lose because I snooze.

      Poor well-meaning Fartshion is probably getting a lot of Tays stopping outside to take pictures. I hope this doesn't prompt them to change the name.

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    2. Them's fightin' words. My future fantastic sign post will blow your blog's mind. Blow, I say!

      As for Fartshion, I tried to be inconspicuous and spy-like when I took the photo, as if the sign just happened to accidentally make it into the shot. The guys drinking tea outside did not seem convinced.

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    3. You'll be pleased to hear I got a tweet from @joellefirzli who says she actually knows the guy behind Fartshion (let's call him Mr Fartshion) and has tried many times to communicate to him the "hidden message" in the name, but he's unperturbed. Fartshion forever!

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  4. oh memories... you didn't get SEXY Back? And I actually met the lady who owns cock--never asked her about it but i thought it was weird that being in the UK, she didn't know this. But she's smarter than me. And i did the number 2 joke a while ago!

    tony

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    1. I'm glad you enjoy a good poo joke, Tony. I don't think I've seen SEXY Back, but sadly SEXE on Hang Bong has closed down, as has Sad Shop. You wouldn't even recognise Hanoi any more.

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  5. Oh Fanny! I remember Nathan's jokes! We had a great time eating Fanny all afternoon. Very tasty!
    I love this post... Number 2 coffee. Everyone needs to start the day with one of those!

    Suga

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    1. Thanks for commenting Suga! I wasn't exaggerating about Nathan making Fanny jokes EVERY SINGLE TIME. I'm glad you appreciated them, at least.

      And yes, I'm pretty sure Number 2 Coffee is the best name for a coffee shop ever.

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  6. Not sure if it's still there but there's a kid's clothes store on Hang Bong called Pooh Shop (obviously based on the internationally famous toy bear...but still!)

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    1. Oh I'm pretty sure old Pooh's still there! If I recall correctly, it's a helmet shop by day and a barbecue place by night. Aaah, pooh.

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  7. Mysterious fashion is so mysterious it always has its shutters down whenever I walk past. They're clearly keeping something very secret...

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    1. YES! Maybe the whole thing is a performance art piece.

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  8. I bet Nathan would look good in a leopard print tux. Don't miss this opportunity!

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    1. You're so right, Suzy! Do you think they'd check to see if he was "on TV" before they let him buy it?

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  9. I love your blog - hilarious. Am living in HK and there are so many parallels between your experiences and what you see here as well. Wanko fashion label is my fav here in HK along with Rapee Home. And puerile or not after a year and a half of living here I will definitely be found with the iphone out taking pics of random street names, and shop signs to post on FB and giggle about :)

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Jenny! Wanko fashion = awesome. A current favourite for me is also the new name for the German Development Corporation (whose logo you see a lot in Hanoi). They used to be called GTZ, but now they're GIZ. They're the German GIZ.

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  10. Putting his dong into Fanny indeed! tee hee!

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  11. Isn't there also a HAFASCO store some where in your area?

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    1. Nice. I've also been informed of a PNISS.

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  12. I remember the day when we discovered Number Two Coffee, we were on the way to Ba Vi I think..appropriate.

    I just can't get enough of this stuff - Fartshion - you couldn't make it up!

    Simon

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    1. What a day that was. It was pretty much downhill after Number Two Coffee.

      Pleased I'm keeping my customers satisfied!

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  13. First one's my favorite, I must say I live in Pattaya therefore I'm quite accustomed to seeing outrageous signs and banners. One caught my eye though, it was outside a massage parlor and it was so upfront it just tickled me to pieces.

    http://www.pattayaunlimited.com/2012/03/extreme-pattaya-massage-message.html

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    1. Wow, NOTHING is lost in translation there!

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  14. Oh damn! I can hear you laughing behind the post at the English learning attempts of Hanoians, which is the same thing foreigners get when they try to speak Vietnamese. Joke aside, there is endless posts about how funnily Vietnamese come up with the names of their shops, even in Vietnamese. As long as the names really catch attentions, they'll go over the top with absurdity. Boy, talking about some creativity!

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    1. Yes, I would love to hear the kind of names that foreigners would come up with in Vietnamese! Lots of accidental references to body parts, I'm sure...

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