Take time out to enjoy..

Take time out to enjoy..
Relax, renew, regain, regrow, reflect

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ode to the happy Traveler ..

Ode to a happy traveler 
Aah, we were packed – we were on the way to Vietnam!  We had our visas and passports, credit cards, and we were heading to the airport! 

Packing for Vietnam you don’t know what to expect! So you read up everything possible and then still discover you've packed the wrong stuff anyway! So my rule of thumb is - go with what you’re comfy with!  Vietnam is casual, warm, wet, and cheap, so at the best of times, you can buy a raincoat, umbrella, cardigan, t-shirts, shoes, whatever!  So, black pull on elegant pants for travelling, with a nice but smart top. Flat shoes that can double up with a dress in your suitcase for ‘just in case’..  I seem to travel with black as a main colour, and fill in the accessories with nice splashes of colour – shocking pink shopping bag, bright turquoise twin set, and another one in bright pink. And one in green for comfort!  These are in fantastic non crushable fabric, a stunning black wrap dress, my bathers, and a few kaftans, which can double as loose tops over ¾ cropped pants – white, and another black pair. Great with either tops, or kaftans! Pair of black strappy sandals, flat, and a pair of rubber thongs! And that’s it.   Oh no!! take samples of any clothes you’d like copied, jackets, shirts, pants, plus any pictures.. Amazing tailors in Hoi An!  The silk industry is alive and very well in Vietnam!

So lesson number one – take the bare minimum, and then take ½ out of your suitcase again. 

We arrived at HCMC (Saigon) to connect with our Domestic flight to Danng, had a bit of time on hand, and browsed shops! Everything looked so strange, what is that fruit? What does this label say this is? Do you eat it or drink it?  We really didn’t know much about Vietnamese food! 

Some popular dishes are canh, goi ngo sen, nom du du, rau muong, ca phao –  Cau Lau – Com Viet 

So lesson number two– read up before you going to a new country what kinda food/drinks are available. 
I had heard that because of Vietnamese wonderful French influence, one gets marvelous baguettes, and coffee.  Oh Pho? .. Yes, the girls in the office had raved about this dish called Pho.! Well here will be my opportunity to discover all about the tastes of Vietnam. 

First morning for breakfast at our hotel, I side stepped up to the Pho counter and wowoie.. Was it amazing!!!?? .. Pho (pronounced fahr) is a light, fragrant soup eaten for breakfast and all through the day. It is a most loved dish by the Vietnamese. The secret lies in the quality of the stock. 
Basically Pho Bo is beef and Pho Ga is chicken.. you start off with a bowl (decent size) with one cup of beef stock steaming hot and on the rolling boil, add thin slices of beef (uncooked) into your broth, this cooks/broils it quickly, add small hand full of rice noodles, add small handful of bean sprouts - Top with coriander, green onion, chili, basil, fresh mint all chopped roughly, - serve with extra lime, chili and fish sauce to taste.  It’s wonderful and so filling, and nourishing!  Remember to add a squeeze of lime/lemon juice as well for that extra zing!  Then there is the smell of freshly baked baguettes wafting through the dining room. Man when was lunch time?.. Ok, we’re going to walk it off.. So baguette and thinly slivered tomatoes with beautiful cheese.. And a coffee?.. Yes please. Now we’re into the serious stuff! Vietnamese coffee!!  Then what about a delicate French patisserie to complete the picture? Oh what the heck, I’m on holiday!  
And this is the first morning! 

Here thanks to Wikipedia is a recipe – 
Vietnamese iced coffee, also known as Ca phe sua da or cafe sua da (Vietnamese: cà phê sữa đá, literally "coffee milk ice") is a traditional Vietnamese coffee recipe. It is also called ca phe nau da (Vietnamese: cà phê nâu đá, "iced brown coffee") in northern Vietnam.
At its simplest, Ca phe sua da is made with finely ground Vietnamese-grown dark roast coffee individually brewed with a small metal Vietnamese drip filter (cà phê phin) into a cup containing about a quarter to a half as much sweetened condensed milk, stirred and poured over ice. 

Ok, so breakfast done and dusted, we were eventually out on the streets of Hoi An. This beautiful ol’ Heritage listed town is just a photographer’s best dream! Take plenty of spare disc space if you’ve gone digital! Or rolls if this is your jargon.  Around every corner is a photo opportunity.  Ladies selling fruit cajoling out for you to try/buy some.. lovely small finger bananas, or dragon fruit?.. what about a rambutan  or the stinky durian?  Custard apples or jackfruits? .. again all sounding and looking like something from another planet!  Amazing Vietnam!

Aah, what time is it?.. very hot out here on the streets, let stop for some lunch! Oh, but we’ve just had breakfast, but then again, why not, we’re on holiday remember! 
Lunch spot picked.. Washed hands and sitting with a whirling fan overhead.. Savoring over the menu.. shall it be a green mango salad with prawns?.. Or what about a Vietnamese Chicken Salad with its zesty dressing of fish sauce and lime juice? .. 

Thankfully we’re here for a few days, and I can come back and have the alternative choice another day!  I’d love to try one of those street waffles please! I’d also love to try those rice paper salad rolls.. With their delicious dipping sauce again! 

Drink?.. What about another of those famous coffees?.. Yes please that would be just perfect!  And paying, what a pleasure! 

Ode to the happy traveler.. 
When you’re out and about, 
Don’t get stuck on a tout, trying only what know back home!
Be brave, dream big, after all…. 
If you follow your dreams, you get to follow your heart!
If you follow your heart, you follow your dreams! 

Enjoy Vietnam! I certainly did. Eat, drink and be very merry.

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