Vietnam | Oct 2016

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Me, my cousin Minh and my grandmother in front of the Notre Dame*.

*Vietnam was colonized by France for many years. The Notre Dame was built during their time. Vietnam is therefore heavily influenced by the European colony.

Fun fact: I’m a quarter Vietnamese. Yes. My grandmother is Vietnamese. My grandfather met her while he was working there and took her back to the Philippines to marry her. I’ve been to Vietnam once before, many years ago that I can’t remember much of my time there. I’m happy to have visited again and documented it!

Vietnam is a beautiful country, much like the Philippines, with a unique culture. #1 on my agenda was of course, to eat. Vietnam is known for their delicious cuisine.

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Beef Stew Pho

Beef Stew Pho is a personal favorite of mine.We have a Vietnamese resto and coffee shop here in Marikina (I’ll see if I can write about it in another post) and I always order this. It’s noodles with fresh beef, meat loaf and vegetables in a nice spiced beef broth. Just writing about it has got me craving!

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Pho (separated soup)

A twist to the Vietnamese classic Pho! You eat the noodles with crunchy onions, vegetables and meat separately but simultaneously with the soup.

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Fried Quails

One of the most memorable eating experiences I’ve had is the Fried Quails. Crazy delicious that you can dip in sauce or salt with lime. I personally prefer the salt with lime. You eat the Fried Quails with pieces of banh or baguettes. The drinks we have on the table are sugar cane juices, another popular Vietnamese drink. You can order this anywhere, made fresh when you order.

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I have no idea how else to describe how these taste like but they’re hella delicious that I ate about 10 of them. I ate these little suckers to the bone! Almost better than fried chicken!

 

 

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This is a plate of Quail Egg Balut. Everything you’d expect from the infamous balut from Filipino cuisine but in a much smaller scale. Delicious!

 

 

 

A day of roaming around Saigon can be extremely tiring! A great on-the-go meal (or midnight snack) is Vietnam’s famous banh mi! It’s a crunchy baguette sandwich that is made with fresh veggies, liver spread, and your choice of chicken or beef meat. Banh mi stands are everywhere in the city, at every corner! You won’t have to look far to satisfy those cravings.

Or, you can also try street food! It’s a bit different from the usual street food you find in Manila. Here in Vietnam, even the street food are healthy! Veggies and fruits is the way to go. This is why you will never see fat/obese people in Vietnam, they eat so healthy! My favorite were fruits in ice (I prefer pineapples) and you add spicy sauce with salt (specialty of the vendor) and shake the cup. The sauce isn’t in the photo because I only realized it was included when I was half done.

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The perfect drink to wash it all down is an Iced Coffee or Ca Phe Da. If you want sweetened milk (condense milk) in it, ask for Ca Phe Sua Da. Its the perfect energy boost and it has a distinct taste that you’ll never forget. Luckily, like Banh Mi stands, Ca Phe stands are everywhere as well so you won’t have to look far for your daily dose. I had this everyday that my family already knew I would want one in the morning and would order as soon as I came down.

Now for some sweets! These are some of Vietnam’s traditional dessert dishes. Mostly made of sticky rice, beans and fruits! My favorite is the leche flan in iced coffee! Couldn’t get enough of it!

Here are some soft ice cream sundaes! They’re located on the side of the road and only serve two flavors: avocado and durian. I had the avocado, and my durian-loving grandmother got the durian flavored one. Both sweet and delicious!

This is Vietnam’s version of halo-halo! I’d like to enumerate what the colorful jelly goops are but I honestly have no idea. I ordered something safe and had black gulaman, green jelly, basil seeds (i know, they look like tadpoles but they are my fave) and durian. Refreshingly good!

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Here is a rice cake treat my grandmother introduced to me that I loved! She used to eat this a lot as a child. Its basically sticky rice with durian drizzled with sweet milk. Yuuuum! Definitely a new fave!

It’s amazing to see Vietnam’s culture still so raw and traditional. People still wear the iconic straw hat.

Sightseeing included the Notre Dame, Saigon Central Post Office, the famous Ben Tanh Market and Chu Tich Ho Chi Minh’s Statue. All must-sees!

We also went to see Vietnamese war veterans who were wounded and crippled during service create beautiful art with egg shells! You can purchase their pieces to help their cause.

My grandmother and I went on tour to the Cuchi Tunnels where the Vietnamese took refuge during the war. Here we see their traditional war clothes, the traps they made, the tunnels they lived in and an authentic tank from the war.

Here we see how it’s done. The hole was hella small and tight and I couldn’t get out of it without help. I can’t believe they lived here, under the ground, for over 30 years!

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The best way to get around and see the city is from the back of a motorcycle. As demonstrated by this pupper.

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Here’s the family with my great grandmother on my right (she’s almost 90!). Thank you for the hospitality!

Shout out to my bà ngoại (grandmother) who took me along and showed me Saigon and introducing me to delicious Vietnamese food you can’t get anywhere and translated everything for me to understand. Thank you for a memorable trip to Vietnam!

Will try to upload a travel video soon of my time in Vietnam.

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