Wow, Do they love their motorcycles? It really didn’t matter if you are dressed in skirt or wearing shorts because motorcycles can really get you from point a to point b pronto. Saying that, one must be careful in crossing the streets. Being good navigators, drivers mastered the way of avoiding pedestrians. Just don’t panic when you see swarm of Vespas going your way.
Hoam Kiem Lake
Pho, banh mi and coffee
There are three foods that Viet Nam is famous for : rice noodles or pho, coldcut sandwich or banh mi and Vietnamese pressed coffee.
Pho is your typical rice noodles similar to the noodles used for pad thai. The difference is that the noodles swim in a bowl of tasty broth with a hint of cilantro, spring onions and red hot bell pepper. Srachi sauce and lemon are optional. You can pick out from three proteins to go with the noodles – chicken, beef or ground pork. One can get this from the swanky restos in the Old Quarter or the stalls at the nearest side street.
The true pho experience, however, is eating it on the side street with the rest of the common tao. The makeshift tables, plastic soup spoon, sweaty forehead and all, make slurping pho away an unforgettable dining experience. It didn’t matter that I had to do some kind of sign language while conversing with manang tindera for the type of pho that I want.
Cold cut sandwich reminiscent of cold heros is very Vietnamese if one is eating it with their baguette. Unlike the French counterpart of the bread, their baguette version is not as makunat as one can imagine. And one can buy this from vendors hawking them on their bicycles. Such a treat because it is like their version of pandesal at 12 pesos for a 6 inch bread! As for the spread, one can have the pate spread, chicken strips or ham over a bed of lettuce. Did I mention cheap and healthy?
Dark rich coffee that can really kick your ass. It can awaken the senses ala barako but it is best savored with condensed or fresh milk. The taste shouts pressed style, the Vietnamese way.
You definitely have to forget all your imported high end coffee shops because in Hanoi, it is hip to sit on those low chairs sipping hooooot coffee.
Viet Nam,lately, is also synonymous to Northface, Kipling and Samsonite at very low prices. Funny thing is that when we were looking at these stalls, there was only one toursit couple I saw buying the goods (probably for their backpacking trip up north) but met alot of pinoys. Are we the only one so into export overruns? One thing for sure, you will get a TNF Borealis at 80 percent off the original price. Be your own quality control when buying them, though.
Being colonized by France, it is but logical that there are parts in the city that shouts French. And I am not referring to the bread or the fries (hehehe).
There is the Old Quarter which houses alot of buildings reminiscent of France with ornate facade and large columns. And these buildings house cafes, cosmetic shops, boutiques and all. Aaaah, and the lighting inside these stores add to the drama.
The grand Opera House and the rotunda ala Arc d Triomphe (based on my Vietnam 101) are the ultimate influence. Yellow and all, you will be in awe just like I did when I saw them.
VIet Nam has a lot to offer aside from the food and the overruns. There are temples to explore, Halong Bay to pay homage to and all the historical places in Ho Chi Minh. One thing for sure, I will be back. Maybe soak in the Vietnamese culture, dip my feet in Halong Bay and crawl my way in Củ Chi tunnel. In between, I’ll still be sippling coffee and eating pho on those low chairs.