By Tao Jun, Nguyen Xuan
HANOI, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Being too tired of summer heat waves, Hanoians find a new place in town not only to chill down, but also to get frozen.
A group of four youngsters stepped into a coffee shop in Hanoi's Dai Co Viet Street on Sunday morning, extending a line of dozens of visitors queuing in front of a reception desk.
"We read about this place early this week, so today we manage to get here together," 27-year-old Hanoian Nguyen Kim Linh told Xinhua while skimming through the drink list with several arrays of options available.
Linh said she was both excited and nervous to experience a freezing atmosphere at the ice cafe for the first time, especially when it was summer in the tropical city with temperature sometimes surpassing 40 degrees Celsius.
"I have never seen it falling to zero in Hanoi, let alone seeing ice or snow," confessed Linh, wondering if there was any chance that she might suffer a temperature shock.
Linh decided to order a cup of hot chocolate, hoping that it would warm her up once she entered the coolest zone. The female customer, together with her companions, were then guided to sit for about 15 minutes in the waiting room where temperature maintained at 16 degrees Celsius.
"It is for their bodies to get adapt to the new environment, since they had just stepped in from a baking hot atmosphere out there," 26-year-old Dao Tu Bac, a shareholder of the coffee shop, explained.
After the 15-minute cooling down, customers will then be coated a warm dressy parka in dark navy color, with hood and thick layers of fur and led to a colder zone of 5 degrees Celsius.
Opening last month, the place christened ICE Coffee became a phenomenon among local residents and visitors. People of all ages flock to experience for the first time in their lives the frozen zone of minus 10 degrees Celsius in the middle of summer days.
Inside the coldest zone, a high-capacity chiller works all day and night to keep the temperature at minus 10 degrees Celsius. All furniture and decorations are made exclusively from ice. Under the blue light imitating Disney's Frozen cartoon, they look magical as in a fantasy land.
"It's totally worth a try. I am sitting on an iced bench and placing my chocolate cup on an iced table. It is freaking cold and beautiful," Linh yelled excitedly while trembling in the oversized coat with her hands rubbing together.
According to Bac, the hotter it is outside, the more crowded his shop becomes. "During periods when temperature is over 40 degrees Celsius, we receive some 500 customers per day; many of them have to wait for hours. Sometimes we have to stop letting them in because of limited space," he said.
Bac and his partners came up with the idea of building such a space a few years ago before they launched their first shop in Vietnam's southern Ho Chi Minh City in 2016.
"We learned that people there are always eager to experience winter weather, since it's hot all year round. We wished to bring them a special experience without going anywhere," recalled Bac.
As the idea has been a success, the founders moved on to expand their chain to the capital city of Hanoi which has an extremely hot summer between June and August.
"In the coming time, we plan to open more branches in other major cities nationwide, including Can Tho (southern city), Da Nang, Nha Trang (central cities), and Hai Phong (northern city)," he said optimistically.
Leaving the frozen zone after 20 minutes, Linh and her companions were loudly showing each other the best photos they took inside. "I cannot wait to post them on Facebook. All of my friends will be amazed," she said with a bright smile.