Few things inspire the written word more than a good cup of coffee. Caffiene seems to power the brain, and by association, the pen. An elixir of creativity. Vietnamese coffee is one of the best, perhaps the epitome of good coffee. Rich, deep, and potent. It’s the way they roast over here. Roasted and ground with locally grown cocoa beans, creamy butter and a sprinkle of sugar, it is brewed quickly and served short and strong.

In Vietnam inspiration is not hard to come by. Stalls gather in the spaces on the streets not filled by chatting and conversing locals, wandering tourists, men perched on stools watching the world when not putting it to rights, and women selling their wares harnessed in baskets aloft a shoulder balanced pole. That is in the gaps where motorbikes and scooters are not weaving and winding, flitting in and out of every conceivable hole in the road. Vietnam is built on bikes, often holding five people, and one upturned bowl between them all for safety.

And so it is at The Note Cafe in capital Hanoi. Early until late and overlooking the Hoan Keim Lake, this refresher coloured cafe serves coffee and cakes that are a welcome fuel before hitting the Old Quarter of this northern city. Busy and bustling, visual and flavoursome stimulation are not hard to find around here. But what if, whilst supping the coffee, feeling the macaroons melt, absorbing the million miles an hour view, you find yourself struck by an urge to compose or a penchant for penmanship, but no tools to undertake the craft with.

Grab a pencil from the pot, pick up a post it, and scribble away. Quotes, lyrics, pourings of the heart, a witty quip, messages to yourself, loved ones or strangers, whatever it may be. Then add it to the confetti of sticky squares on the wall and add to the ambience. Culinary and creative.


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