Tag Archives: vietnam

Eating Mystery Lunch in Hanoi, Vietnam

I walked alone down a bustling street in the heart of Ha Noi. The sun was hot, the air was thick with humidity, and my skin was slick with sweat. I stuck to one side of the street, partly because it was in the shade, and partly because crossing the street here is scary! The road has three lanes, but with the scooters, cars, and trucks all squished together, a terrifying traffic wall forms. The only way to cross is to play a real life game of Frogger. Step one: begin walking slowly, making eye contact with scooters in your immediate path. Two: continue walking – don’t stop! Don’t forget to keep eye contact as the scooters and cars fly by. Step three: Ignore the laughter coming from the Vietnamese onlookers, it will only distract you. Step four: When you get to the other side, stop holding your breath, exhale.

I walked until the sweet smell of delicious food being cooked nearby stopped me. I walked in, and found myself to be the only non-local in the room. A man behind a counter looked at me. I smiled. He stared. I looked around. Everyone in the restaurant looked at me. I smiled. They stared. The man behind the counter motioned for me to sit down. I did.

I looked at a menu for only a moment before I realized it was all in Vietnamese only. It didn’t matter though, for the man from behind the counter brought me something. He placed a dish in front of me and smiled a big, toothy smile. I smiled back! There sat a beautiful fried egg, beef (I think), another kind of meat, something that resembled green onion (and very well could have been green onion), potatoes covered in brown sauce, and something else that was green. It sizzled away on the plate. It smelled divine. I began to eat. As I ate, I tried to decipher what the heck it was I was eating. I had no idea. All I know is that it tasted so good.

The couple sitting across from me stared. I tried to ignore the stares, but I couldn’t. I choose to believe they stared because they have never seen someone as beautiful as me. I looked at them and said, Hello! They both smiled and nodded. The man said, Hello. The woman giggled. She pointed at her chin and said something to me in Vietnamese. Confused, I touched my own chin. Oh! There was a huge smear of the brown sauce dribbling down my face. I laughed and the woman laughed with me. I thanked her for saving me from embarrassment. I finished my dish, said farewell to my lunch mates, and prepared myself for the next game of Frogger.


My Day in the Mekong Delta

January, 2014

We were up super early and on the bus to head to Mekong Delta. I don’t think any of us expected the day we were about to have. The boat trip across the water was nice and peaceful. Nghiep, our guide, told us a little bit about the Delta. There are islands called Unicorn, Dragon, Phoenix, and Turtle islands. It was a lovely little trip and we arrived on Unicorn Island in about twenty minutes.

This lady was making rice paper

First stop: We learned how rice paper is made! It’s a mix of rice, coconut milk, and water, spread over a hot plate like a crepe and then put in the sun to dry. They had samples for us, some flavoured, some crispy, some still fresh. They were all delicious. We each were able to hold a python too! I love the feeling of snakes!

This is me with a snake

Next, we learned how coconut candies are made. After chopping the coconut open with an incredibly dangerous tool that could slice off a hand, shelling the coconut with a sharp spike that could impale your inner thigh, and feeding the coconut slowly through a grinder that could eat your fingers, the coconut is mixed with sugar and malt. It’s stirred for about half an hour and then set in the sun to dry. They flavour the candies with various things like peanuts, chocolate, and coffee. I had to buy a few ginger ones- they are just too good.

The terrifying tools used to make coconut candies

We took a row boat down one of the canals to our next stop. The boat was small, and only 4 at a time could fit in. The water was unmoving, the giant palm fronds have us shade, and the only sounds were the water lapping against the shore, a rooster crowing in the distance, and our rower’s oar dipping into the water. It was lovely.

The beautiful Mekong Delta

Second stop: lunch! After walking through an inadequately secured bee farm, we arrived at a giant table. We all sat around and lunch was served. They brought out a huge cooked fish, and at the table, a Vietnamese woman made us individual fresh spring rolls with rice noodles, pineapple, and cucumber. They were very good. We had really nice battered banana, sour chicken, fried rice, jackfruit, and delicious tea with honey from the bee farm! After lunch we had a chance to all Latin hammocks and digest our food. I forgot how much I love hammocks. I love hammocks.

We took tuk tuks to our third stop. These were unlike any tuk tuk I’ve ever seen. They were converted motorbikes! Front half of a bike attached to a bed of a very small pickup truck! We wore helmets because we drove through a coconut forest, and they don’t want tourists getting bonked on the head. I think it was also because they like to laugh at the tourists with their goofy helmets on.

Our goofy AF helmets

Third stop: we were given fresh tropical fruit for dessert! Dragon fruit, jackfruit, some amazing fruit of which the name I can’t remember, and the most darling bananas I have ever seen. These bananas made me feel like a giant. They were no longer than my index finger, but short and fat, and the brightest colour of yellow on the inside. Delicious.

Last stop: the pier. We boated in silence back across the water. As we passed more docked ships, I saw a man napping on a hammock ON A BOAT! The water was literally rocking him to sleep. I have to talk to my friends and see if they’ll go in with me to buy a boat and a few hammocks….

I also saw:
Two old men playing Vietnamese chess,
A topless man reading the paper and smoking,
A grandma playing with a new baby,
An overturned motorbike,
A boy sneak a kiss from the girl on the back of his bike,
A game of football being played by young boys in a parking lot,
Two old women using stationary bikes on a playground.

Dan and Amy looking as lovely as ever in their conical hats