|Content: DJ Vaughan Evans says that living in Ha Noi brings him his two favourite things, the work of a DJ and the bun cha dish. Photo courtesy Vaughan Evans
by Minh Thu
If someone asks Vaughan Evans about his favourite thing in Viet Nam, he will name bun cha without a doubt.
The dish of paddy noodles served with grilled fatty pork dipped in sauce and herbs made him decide to stay in Ha Noi.
"I don't think I can go more than a week without eating it," said Evans, "I enjoy it at least once a week at the familiar stall on Pham Ngoc Thach Street."
"Without bun cha, perhaps I will visit Ha Noi and leave like other foreign tourists. I love it like crazy."
After working for two years as an IT technician, he was fed up and wanted a change. He decided to pack a bag and travel.
Evans had always wanted to travel throughout Southeast Asia, but was particularly interested in Viet Nam after reading Chef Anthony Bourdain's book A Cook's Tour.
"The book is about his travels around the world, looking for the best food and he concluded that it could be found here," said Evans. "I was not disappointed."
While travelling, he looked for a place to live as he had grown tired of life in London and wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps as an English teacher.
"After particularly enjoying my time in Ha Noi and falling in love with bun cha, I decided that this was where I could make my home. I returned to England to tie up some loose ends and then bought a one-way ticket. The rest, as they say, is history."
Evans was pretty disorientated when he first arrived in Ha Noi six years ago, after a 24-hour bus ride from Laos. He remembers getting lost several times in the Old Quarter, but generally liked the hustle and bustle and organised chaos.
"It took a little getting used to, but I usually feel at home in most cities. As much as I appreciate nature and the countryside, I could never do without the buzz of a city in my life," he said.
A new life
Although Evans started his new life in Ha Noi as an English tutor, he said that he was a DJ long before he was ever a teacher.
He first started playing drums and bass music when he was 15. His mother loved classical music, so he grew up with the music of Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin. His brother made Evans get involved in rock. Evans himself liked the kind of music where he could combine different styles. Then he became a DJ, and played for some clubs in London.
"Although I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to play in the United States, Canada and Latin America, it was mainly a hobby and not something that I thought would be my full-time job," Evans said.
"There are no limits to DJ's music. While playing, I feel free and inspirational and never stop being creative.
"After working and travelling for many years, it was in Ha Noi that I became interested in DJing again, using new technology and playing different genres of music," he added.
Today his job is quite multi-faceted. He works as a DJ in three to five events each week in a variety of bars and venues, including CAMA ATK (73A Mai Hac De Street), and also sometimes provides music for fashion shows and other events, and teaches in English classes.
There are lots of things Evans loves about Ha Noi. "The food is one thing, but I suppose I do have a thing for the lakes around the city. Perhaps it's an affinity for water. I love to cycle around West Lake or enjoy a coffee by its edge."
Having travelled around the world, he honestly said that the Vietnamese people are unlike those found anywhere else.
"You will find it hard to find people with the same persistence and stubbornness, while being warm and hospitable," he pointed out.
Evans learnt Vietnamese and has been trying to become fluent in it. As for adapting to life here, he has definitely become a coffee drinker. Now he can visit any coffee shop and order a cup of "ca phe nau da" (iced coffee with milk) like other Vietnamese people. — VNS