Vietnam Park 4: Inside Hanoi

Here is my final post of photos from my trip to Vietnam. Hanoi was such a fun and unique city to visit. I loved all the food, culture and colors. One of the nights we were there, we randomly saw a parade happening. It was great seeing all the people dressed in their traditional clothing.  We also got to see the outside of the Ho Chi Minh Museum. The museum was unfortunately closed on that day.

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Vietnam Part 2: The Food

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Yes, this might be the important of my posts on my trip to Vietnam. This is all about the food I experienced there. I always loved Vietnamese food that I ate in the States. However, I quickly found out that the food that I liked to eat from Saigon Grill and other Pho places were different from the actual food in Vietnam. I’m assuming that they change the food a bit to fit our western palates a bit.

There were certain dishes I was expecting and I didn’t find them to be quite the same in Vietnam. Our first night, we asked the hotel front desk for a recommendation for a good dinner place. They pointed us to a street and said this was where the locals eat. So our first night there, we had our map in our hand and attempted to navigate through the confusing and busy streets in the old quarter. We luckily managed to weave our way through endless scooters and dark streets to find the street. We didn’t realize that it wasn’t really a restaurant inside, but there were multiple food stalls outside on the sidewalk with small stools and tables (very close to the street) that we would sit on.

We randomly chose one of the places, and sat down. They asked us what we wanted  and pointed to the menu, which listed 4 items which we couldn’t read. Then we said we wanted the chicken dish. They asked if we wanted rice or noodles. We said noodles and hoped for the best. After a few minutes, we were given two large bowls of pho with chicken. It was delicious. There was a clear and refreshing broth filled with thicker flat white noodles and pieces of chicken breast. It didn’t taste like any of the pho I had back at home and it only cost about 2 US dollars.

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The next day, we participated in a cooking class. Again, we weren’t really sure what to expect. It cost $30 per person and it would be in a restaurant near us. My friend Laura and I got picked up and taken to the restaurante, blue butterfly. We arrived and our instructor greeted us. We were the only 2 in the class! He had a lot of the ingredients set up already like the meet and some vegetables. However, he took us on a walk to the market to buy the rest of the ingredients. The market place in itself was an adventure. We saw all sorts of things, which I’m assuming were meant to be eaten, like turtles, eels, squid, frogs and even some kittens. I’m hoping the kittens were for pets?

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After our walk to the market place, we picked up noodles, sliced green papayas and a few other vegetables. We started cooking. We made spring rolls, green papaya salad and lemon grass chicken with chillis. It was fun being able to participate in cooking some authentic Vietnamese food. Our chef created some fun designs with the fruits and veggies to decorate our plates as well. We followed a recipe for 5 servings and in the end it was only my friend and I that ate the food. We ended up having way too much food! Hopefully, I’ll be able to cook up some of these dishes on my own now.

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Vietnam Part 1: Old Quarter Charm

I stayed in the Old Quarter area in Hanoi during my trip. I had the opportunity to walk around a lot and see the many streets and sites of this part of town. There was a lot of flavor and charm in this part of the town from the busy streets, to the markets, old buildings and all the people. I tried to capture some of it on camera, the rest you’ll just have to see for yourself!

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More photos of the food and Halong Bay coming soon!

A Life on Water

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Slice of Life Challenge Day #31

After a week in Vietnam, there were many eye opening moments and memories. One of the lasting things from the trip, besides crossing the scooter filled streets everyday, was seeing the fishing villages in Halong Bay. Halong bay in itself was a beautiful natural wonder. I had no idea that it would be so big and that there were so many boats there filled with tourists.

On the first day of our boat cruise, we got to go kayaking around one of the fishing villages. We kayaked around and through their village and  I felt like I was intruding. They were probably used to all these tourists kayaking through their village every day. Yet, I felt like I got a small peek of their life. Their houses which were floating on top of the water with boats parked next to them I saw dogs outside, kids playing, women cooking food and people just sitting in their homes.

Afterwards, I had so many questions racing through my mind. What would it be like to be grow up pretty much living on water instead of land? How often did they get a chance to go on land? Did they interact often with other fishing villages? Did they go swimming often in the water? Where did they go to the bathroom?  How close of a community were the people in the fishing village? How did the kids go to school? How did they feel about all these tourists kayaking through their village every day?

I just couldn’t imagine growing up in a fishing village and living on the water. I did a bit more research and found an informative article on the history of these fishing villages here. I also found out that they are trying to get the people in these villages to move onto the mainland. I still find it incredibly fascinating that these people have been living on the water for many generations, making a living off the fishing that they do.

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More photos to come on my trip to Vietnam! Stay tuned… 

the art of crossing

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Slice of Life Challenge Day #30

The Art of Crossing

In NYC, you cross the street by looking both ways and if the street is clear of cars, buses, taxis or buses, you cross. A true New Yorker doesn’t pay much attention to weather the pedestrian crossing sign is red or green. New Yorkers are always busy and have some place to go.

In Seoul, you cross the street  by looking at the pedestrian crossing sign. Jaywalking is not as common as people will usually wait to cross.

In Singapore, you cross the street by looking to your left first, then to your right, since they drive on the left side of the road. I definitely had a few close encounters of looking at the wrong side when I first arrived. People tend to wait for the crosswalk sign to turn green. Singapore is pretty strict with their laws here! 🙂

In Hanoi, you look to check there are no cars coming right away then you just cross the street, not paying too much attention to the hundreds of scooters (motor bikes) coming your way. Our tour guide told us that there are about 1-3 scooters per person. When there are more than 6 million people in Hanoi,  that is a a lot of scooters on the narrow streets.

We quickly learned the art of crossing the street here after a week. You would very rarely see pedestrian crossing signs on the streets in the old quarter. Our technique worked quite well. You crossed quickly and looked straight ahead, without making eye contact with the mass of scooters and cars coming your way. It was easier for the scooters to weave around you as you walk then you stopping and waiting for the scooters to cease. The fact was, the scooters coming down the street were endless. You would be waiting all day to cross the street.

We were able to cross efficiently and safely using our method, even though most times inside I felt incredibly terrified that I would get hit.  Hanoi was definitely the only city I’ve been to where all the rules to crossing the street were completely opposite than what I was used to.

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