After exams I went on a short trip to Vietnam to have a break. Previously I’ve been to Myanmar and Thailand, both great and very gorgeous countries, but Vietnam has always had that alluring feel to it being used to french colonial rule and the subject of such historical devastation. We touched down in the evening at Ho Chi Minh:-
And was struck by how similar the city was to 1930s Kuala Lumpur (except much much cleaner). There were positively people everywhere, not remarkable as Ho Chi Minh is one of the densest city in South East Asia.
I’m not the best of travelers therefore an early dinner was in order. I was really looking forward to sampling one of my favourite noodle dishes- pho, in its origin country. In fact I’m pretty sure that was mostly what I ate through the entire trip.
A pho with beef slices, some dessert bubbling in their pots and a spicy fish ball noodle soup.
We were at an interesting restaurant whose owner apparently traveled throughout Vietnam to bring in the best chefs of all the various different dishes under one roof. Admittedly however I was not too impressed with my meal. The next morning though I decided to walk around the city and found a charming little place where $5 bought us two beautifully done pho with plenty of zest and flavour. I was rather ecstatic!
The place had a lovely art feel to it with walls covered with white washed timber and painted to resemble houses.
Then it’s off to do a spot of shopping for local wares and to see the sights.
We became quite familiar with this covered shopping extravaganza.
Everything here was colorful and bright and luscious, one is quite capable of walking several hours just to return to bargain for yet another souvenir to bring home. And local fruits and tidbits were in abundance, available to be sampled on the spot. This particular market was mostly catered to foreigners, filled with accessories and clothes and lacquer ware. We visited another market specializing in food stuff where double takes were frequent as I spotted dried and curious objects all piled up in their various bags.
The people were generally shy and solemn at times, though quick to smile especially when you try to utter a few words in very strange-sounding Vietnamese or looked as if you were sorry to be in the way as you’re lumbering through with a camera while they were light and limber.
At night the city continues to be alive- many of the imposing buildings in the town center are lit up with bright lights while the night markets are set up.
The food of course continues to be phenomenal.
Icecream for tea, folding a rice paper roll, clams and assorted mushrooms for a hot pot.
We also visited Cu Chi, one of the villages and major site where bombing took place during the war but that can be written of later. On our last day we had dinner at a home style restaurant, famous for food not typically found in other touristic places in the city. It was a place completely constructed from bamboo and was very warm and cosy.
Fried tofu and flowers, rice, clam soup and stewed fish.
Seeing as I’ve mainly explored the city via food, there’s an underlying simplicity to Ho Chi Minh which makes it seems so sweet, a blend of old world charm with an emphasis on the natural while its people imbues it with a lively zest. I’m looking forward to visiting Hanoi to the North one day, perhaps it won’t be too long now.