Discovering the world, one bite at a time!

Goodbye Saigon

Billy Joel wrote a song in the early eighties called Goodnight Saigon about the Vietnam War. As you can imagine with the subject matter it wasn’t a chart-topping toe-tapper but he must have been on the right track because this was the time he was bedding the world’s top supermodels as often as I brush my teeth. Now, I don’t think this account of my visit to the War Remnants Museum will follow the same trajectory but here’s hoping? And for the record I brush my teeth twice daily (as well as daily flossing).

Just to illustrate that this is about more a record of mediocre nutrition and bad spelling, I will start on this sombre note. The War Remnants Museum was well worth a visit and highlighted how shockingly little I knew about the Vietnam War, as well as the many bloody conflicts prior. Each display walked the fine line between, “these were the good guys and these were the bad ones”, rather it questioned are these conflicts really necessary as well as highlighting the unintended casualties of the whole situation (on both sides). Outside the Museum there was a unparalleled assortment of US Forces’ equipment that you can get up close and personal with. Tanks, gun turrets, flamethrowers.

Not that any of these items are for sale to the public, but if you are a war buff, there is apparently a war market (I imagine in the same manner as the food markets) where instead of buying a plate of noodles and some pastries you can buy some old Zippo lighters and uniforms issued by the US Government during the Vietnam War (which is referred to as the “American War” throughout Vietnam).

Random Musings/Photos/Captions

Here’s a list of odds and ends that all occurred during the four nights in Ho Chi Minh City before I went north:

Rather than taxi to the airport I took the local bus. The airport is located approximately ten kilometres from the centre of town, however travellers are warned to allow close to an hour for the commute. I thought this due to the congestion in the city. While some of the blame can be laid there, we did spend ten minutes on the bus as the driver decided to stop off and pick up his lunch halfway through the journey. One of those instances where you file it under “local customs?” I don’t know he had in his various little plastic bags, but when the smell hit my nostrils in the back of the bus I was jealous whatever it was slipped under my radar. We did make it to the airport on time.

People are asking, “Where are the food pictures?”. Keep reading …

Bahn Cuon – thin sheets of rice batter steamed and then covered with toppings and rolled into a tube. Then covered with fried eschallots, sprouts and greens/herbs. There is always a thousand bowls of sauces… chili, fish, soy etc. There’s a second plate next to this one if anybody is asking whether they were any good?
I went back to the Bahn Mi well. This one is the most popular in town but the sandwich was too busy. Being honest the HCMC bahn mi were not as impressive as I had hoped
Bun Thit Nurong – salad of vermicelli noodles and then mountains of bbq pork and herbs. Eaten in the backstreets with the locals. I don’t think they had seen a tourist. Only downside was I thought the plastic chair was going to buckle. Comes with a vinegar dressing to cut through the fattiness of that porky goodness. In Australia it is something sold as “Bun Noodle Salad”. Drooling thinking about this again.
Bun Bo Hue – Originating from the central city of Hue this soup is spicy and has a lot going on, like Thandi Newton. Again, the mountain of extra herbs so you can alter the dish to your heart’s content.
This was the place that served up the Bun Bo Hue. Fairly indicative of the places I frequented. Locals, been doing one thing really well. Less than $3 AUD
Candidate for best meal in HCMC. Bot Chien, Rice cakes pan fried and then added to eggs. The Asian take on an omelette, kind of. Add some greenery, shredded green papaya, chilli and soy sauce. Hearty, tasty.
These street foods eaten in alleyways on the plastic furniture. I felt like a giant in a doll’s house. The place on the right is where I ate the night before and was told, “Alley tomorrow. Tasty”.
Variation #129 of noodle soup. Pork and shrimp.
Bo Kho – a beef stew. This must have cooked for days, the chunks of meat were tender as Neil Finn’s voice. This was my last meal before I caught the bus to the airport. Usually with the “thicker” soups you get a baguette to dunk away with. Thought I’d be adventurous and had a salty lemon drink (salty plum is a thing and it is super salty).
Footpath covered with bikes. Often the bike will stop in the middle of the road, money changes hands and they keep on riding. Drive through fast food Vietnamese style. Was glad the meat in my soup didn’t include the tongue you can see in the cabinet
Long noodles = long life
The cheapest most unappetising meal I will eat during trip. Com (broken rice) with two fried eggs. Roughly $1AUD. Com is everywhere and comes with any combination of meats/veg. How I ended up with two fried eggs is anyone’s guess?
Dessert tasting #1 – usually there is a chocolate bar related post but chocolate isn’t a big commodity in Vietnam. Rice is though. Introducing the green and purple sticky rice separated with a layer of condensed milk type spread. The colours are presentation only
Dessert #2 – Glutinous rice hiding a filling. Have a hunch it was sweetened mungbean? Look down to see what was inside…
Some sustenance from the corner store. Icecream in the shape of a fish, biscuit outside, inside mixed with runny jam (still working out the science behind that) and green tea flavoured icecream. Washed down with unsweetened green tea and (to my distaste, refer previous post, soy milk)
On my walk to the outer edges of HCMC I must have stumbled in the rougher ends of town?
Massage joint getting sick of tired of the “happy ending” questions? For the maths nerds the exchange rate is 15,000 to 1 AUD

A few days behind but don’t fret. For my tardiness except my sincerest apologies. If that grovelling didn’t work how about a shot of some puppies in a basket?


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This blog started life as a series of emails with poor quality photography to family and friends whilst overseas to let them know I was still breathing.  It has since grown into it’s own little part of the internet.  A place where I ramble on about my love of travel and food.  Hopefully you find some enjoyment and inspiration out of it for future travel plans.  I have got a buzz from seeing it evolve into this flurry of pixels. 

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