Hanoi’s sex hot spots: the US embassy guide


Subject: Sex And The City — Hanoi Style

Buried in a pile of dry diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks last week is a racy 2,000-word account on Hanoi’s hot spots — where the girls (and boys) are, and where all the actions is, or was, almost 10 years ago.

It’s the US Embassy guide to the sex scene in Hanoi, complete with references to discos, massage parlours, karaoke joints and “rest houses” by the hour.

The report is written in the context of the HIV/AIDS situation in Hanoi, more openness about sexual activity and other changes taking place in Vietnamese society, and the Communist Party’s uncertainty about how to respond. (WikiLeaks says the 2,000-word account is only an extract of a fuller cable, the text of which is not available.)

The unnamed diplomat who wrote the account must have enjoyed the assignment. His report reads like a newspaper feature article, with bright catchy and suggestive headlines to match.

  • Sex And The City — Hanoi Style
  • Disco lives!
  • Sing, sing a song
  • Relax — the “Thai” Way
  • Rest for the weary
  • Down by the Lake
  • It’s no joke, however

Hanoi hot spots A leaked US diplomatic cable describes how Hanoi sizzled with sex in 2002, with the main areas shown above. The Gai Lam district across the Red River had wall-to-wall karaoke bars lining the road to the airport. Lenin Park was where joggers went in the mornings and couples hit the bushes in the evening. Hoan Kiem lake, though, was where the boys were.

It’s a great read, full of
• gossip
the communist party leader is Ho Chi Minh’s son by a servant
• wry observation;
large numbers of unaccompanied young ladies who are remarkably friendly to strange men;
•friendly warning
stay out of the public toilets … unless seeking an encounter of another kind; and
• the knowing in-joke
the usually reliable staple of poloffs [political officers] everywhere, taxi drivers.

Funny, that’s the same kind of reliable source and seasoned political observer that many journalists frequently use, too.