Good Morning Vietnam!

Hanoi 2014

After 30+ hours of traveling, I am finally in Vietnam. This is my first stop in my 3 week solo trip to Asia and Hanoi is bustling.  Hanoi is a good blend of its French colonial past and a fast emerging Asian economy and this mix is reflected in the  architectural styles, food and culture of the city.  

The advent of globalization has resulted in an almost homogeneous landscape in many regions around the world but Hanoi is still unspoiled, exotic and yet modern enough to have all the amenities, so travel is easy and safe.

My first day starts with a city tour by Hanoikids.org. It is a nonprofit organization that offers free tours by university students who are eager to practice their English. Hands down the best deal in the city!

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We visit the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and the Museum of Ethnology and end the tour with lunch at one of the many pho eateries in the city. It is a simple menu.

You have a choice of beef, chicken or tripe served with fresh garlic, chillies or chilli sauce and lime.  That’s it; and none of this basil, bean sprouts and mint leaves business that we get in America, and that is pretty much the standard here.

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The quality of the stock is what makes for a great pho; a rich soup that has simmered for many hours resulting in a perfect base. The stock provides the taste for the dish since the noodles and meats are plain.   About $4 for two hearty bowls and a side of fried bread. And yes, the pho here is different and truly better tasting.

I go on a night street food tour next and it is fantastic. We visit the Duong Xuan market for a progressive dinner, street food style with a knowledgeable and amiable guide.

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It is a 3km walk which circles the parameter of the market and we stop to try different specialties along the way.  First up is banh my, which is essentially miniature baguettes with a delicious pork floss, pate and green onions filling.

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We move onto banh cuon or fresh rice noodle rolls which are filled with ground pork, minced wood ear mushrooms and fried shallots.

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Then we sit down for barbecue, dining street style. Little plastic chairs and tables set close to the ground and they are everywhere and convert sidewalks, roads, and yards into instant dining places.

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The food is precooked and kept warm on portable burners set on the tiny tables. Very efficient, cosy and interesting dining ambiance amidst rambling mortorcycles, cars, bicycles, shoppers and everything in between.

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There is toasted baguette in honey, chicken and beef skewers with cherries, barbecued eggplant, taro, mushrooms and corn and everything is really quite delicious, seasoned well and cooked perfectly.

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Next up is dessert which is a variety of local fruits served in condensed milk. Condensed milk is a lot like bacon, it really does make everything better!

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We end the night with coffee at a cafe which has one of the nicest views of the city. It is in an old shophouse much renovated, and the cafe is set on the fourth floor which can be accessed only via a steep spiral staircase.

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I try the egg coffee; coffee served with condensed milk and an egg yolk foam. Sweet, rich and thick and not to be consumed on a daily basis I think.

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So ends my first day in Hanoi-exhausting, exhilarating and most definitely exciting.

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10 comments to Good Morning Vietnam!

  • Wendy Propst  says:

    Amazing Lila! I am enjoying living vicariously through you. The food looks delicious and I am just so impressed by your courage. Three weeks alone in Asia – Wow! Hugs! Wendy

    • foreignfeasts  says:

      About half my time is with my family in Malaysia and Singapore so this trip has been really good.

  • The Brunette  says:

    Condensed milk “like bacon”? Very questionable:)

    Looking forward to the next post.

    • foreignfeasts  says:

      I highly recommend fruit with condensed milk and it is a popular and delicious dish. You would love it.

  • leilamhartley  says:

    What a great adventure you are having! It all seems so exotic. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Here’s to traveling solo! Brave woman. :)

  • foreignfeasts  says:

    Traveling solo has been great fun so far. Meeting lots of interesting people and eating lots of great food! :)

  • Anne  says:

    Love your descriptive talent. I can taste your experience! So impressed with your bravery!

    • foreignfeasts  says:

      Thank You! Really appreciate the feedback and support! :)

  • Bob R  says:

    This really brought back lots of great memories from a visit to Hanoi. All the food, the markets, the stalls, the shops, and the motobikes! I still regularly whip up some of the food I learned to make at a couple cooking classes. :)

    • Lila  says:

      Isn’t Hanoi just lovely? The food is amazing and you’re smart to have taken advantage of the cooking classes. Thanks for stopping by. :)

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