felicitycurtain

An informed view of all things food

I went to Vietnam!

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Vietnam hasn’t always been top of my list in places to travel. I’m not sure why, as rice paper rolls have long been up there with my favourite foods, and I consider myself to be something of a pho aficionado, but up until this year, other destinations always won out.

When planning a mid-year escape for 2014, the choices were narrowed down to a varied list of Samoa, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, USA or Vietnam. Evidently we were chasing the sun, but sadly over 50% of these countries would apparently be experiencing their wet season (or some sort of civil unrest), in July, so our options were further narrowed to the USA or Vietnam. When flights almost quadrupuled overnight, America was put on the back burner for another year, and Vietnam was decided on.

After spending three weeks there, I can now understand the enthusiam I’d been met with from those who’d visited the country. The crazy, chaotic roads, seemingly ridiculous sartorial choices of locals (hoodies and gloves in 35C?), endlessly affordable food options and beautiful sights made the trip unforgettable. Here are my highlights:

Crazy traffic in Hanoi

Crazy traffic in Hanoi

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Beautiful beach in Nha Trang

Beautiful beach in Nha Trang

 

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Vietnamese people must have the lowest stress levels - seemingly able to sleep anywhere!

Vietnamese people must have the lowest stress levels – seemingly able to sleep anywhere!

More beautiful beaches - this ones in Danang

More beautiful beaches – this ones in Danang

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Mud baths in Nha trang

Mud baths in Nha trang

I wouldn't recommend submerging your head...!

I wouldn’t recommend submerging your head…!

On the way to 'Vin Pearl' amusement park

On the way to ‘Vin Pearl’ amusement park

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Crazy downpour

Crazy downpour

half way into the worst 24 hours of my life..../food poisoning.

half way into the worst 24 hours of my life…./food poisoning.

As happens to most travelling in Asia, my boyfriend and I suffered from food poisoning around a week into the trip. Ironically, rather than experiencing this from street food, this occurred after eating at the top rated restaurant on Tripadvisor…

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Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

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Pigs!

Pigs!

 

and goats!

and goats!

Running into some traffic on the road.. cows!

Running into some traffic on the road.. cows!

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This was the best pho of the trip, and came from a popular chain in Vietnam - Pho 24.  Cost around $1.50 and was similar to that found in Richmond/Springvale.

This was the best pho of the trip, and came from a popular chain in Vietnam – Pho 24. Cost around $1.50 and was similar to that found in Richmond/Springvale.

rice paper rolls... or 'fresh spring rolls' as they've better known as there. In the bottom corner is  'Vietnamese iced coffee,' made with drip coffee and condensed milk. I became far too obsessed!

rice paper rolls… or ‘fresh spring rolls’ as they’re better known there. In the bottom corner is ‘Vietnamese iced coffee,’ made with drip coffee and condensed milk. I became far too obsessed!

fancy fresh spring rolls - mango everywhere!

fancy fresh spring rolls – mango everywhere!

The view from our breakfast table in Hoi An

The view from our breakfast table in Hoi An

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A definite highlight of our trip was the cooking class we took in Hoi An. Just about every good restaurant in Hoi An offers cooking classes, but our hotel recommended ‘Water Wheel,’ which turned out to be fantastic. Visiting the markets was both fascinating and eye opening; with my long-time employment in hospital Food Service, to say I was uneasy about the hygiene is a slight understatement! Each morning seafood, meat and fresh produce are gathered and sold in their different sections at the market, and according to our guide, nothing is left by 4pm. A real positive of the meat market is that everything is used – though I couldn’t bring myself to document it, the benches were littered with everything from pigs trotters to ducks heads! Even more unnerving is the whole workings of the meat section… ladies sit on work benches (often cross legged and shoeless) and alternate between hacking at their meat and making sales to customers, exchanging money with their (ungloved) hands – FSANZ would be appalled! As for freshness, it all couldn’t get much better. Most of the seafood was still wriggling, with unphased women casually breaking fishes necks to kill them, before hacking off their fins and scales with a sharp knife.

I felt much more comfortable amongst the fruit and vegetables, alot of which was harvested from fields surrounding Water Wheel. Our guide showed us a huge array of fruits, including the up and coming ‘superfood’ mangosteen! She had some pretty interesting stories on the health benefits of certain foods, and mentioned that eating too much fruit could result in resembling ‘a buddha’ due to their high sugar content – I wonder what books she’s been reading!

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The best papaya salad

The best papaya salad

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Grilling fish in a banana leaf – featuring Cal’s socks and sandals.

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Flipping Vietnamese pancakes

Flipping Vietnamese pancakes

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Vietnamese pancake – made with rice flour, shrimp, pork and egg. filled with bean sprouts and salad, then wrapped in rice paper and eaten.

 

 

Returned to the hotel to find the staff had noticed it was my birthday!

Returned to the hotel to find the staff had noticed it was my birthday!

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Reaching out Teahouse in Hoi An  - run by speech and hearing impaired staff, so all servive is via sign language.

Reaching out Teahouse in Hoi An – run by speech and hearing impaired staff, so all servive is via sign language.

 

I couldn't handle my excitmement when I noticed the Vietnamese food pyramid outside a school in Hoi An - definitely got some strange looks whilst photographing it! I think it compares pretty well to our guidelines too.

I couldn’t handle my excitmement when I noticed the Vietnamese food pyramid outside a school in Hoi An – definitely got some strange looks whilst photographing it! I think it compares pretty well to our guidelines too.

 

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After all that I was pretty excited to come home to a Melbourne breakfast.. this is at Chez Dre in South Melbourne.

After all that I was pretty excited to come home to a Melbourne breakfast.. this is at Chez Dre in South Melbourne.

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3 replies

  1. I LOVED vietnam!! Can totally understand your obsession with their coffee… after a month in Vietnam I was addicted!

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