|A REALLY funny warning sign in the hospital bathroom where Gavin|
taught his workshop.
|Our balcony overlooking Westlake. I call this my "Hanoi hair;" it gets|
ridiculously curly in the humid, misty Hanoi weather. :)
|Mopeds lined up on the street with a ton of beer bars.|
Our enthusiastic guide Trang met us at our taxi, and right away we started traipsing through the mist and rain. She first took us to a little restaurant to try Bun Cha, a pork and noodle dish with herbs and dipping sauce. Then we wandered to a little place selling Bahn Cuon, a rice flower steamed pancake with little bits of pork inside. The next restaurant we got to squat on the tiny little Vietnamese plastic stools and eat Nom Bo Kho, or green papaya salad that had a nice refreshing crunch. After that we headed to yet another restaurant and sat on the balcony overlooking old quarter, only a foot away from the city’s power lines, which also incidentally held an empty metal bird cage. This restaurant provided Banh Xeo – a crispy fried pancake filled with meat, which we then were supposed to wrap in dry rice paper with herbs and veggies and dip in sauce – it was a little messy. We also had Cha ca, which was fried fish, and Nom Hoa Chuoi, which was banana flower salad, made from the blooms of banana trees. Also at this restaurant we got to try shots of snake wine, a liquor sitting in a large glass jar with several dead snakes curled up in it, said to improve happiness in everybody and virility for men. :) Trang taught us the toast “Mot hai bay yo!” which means something like “One, two, three, cheers!” I couldn’t taste anything “snakey” in it, it sort of tasted like grappa. After that, we all (Gavin and I seriously regretting our buffet breakfast by this time…) went to another restaurant for Bun Bo, a south Vietnamese style noodles with pork that was sweeter than Pho. Next was dessert at yet another restaurant, where we had Sua Chua Nep (black rice with yogurt) and Bahn Troi Tau (dumplings filled with black sesame seeds or green beans and coconut, floating in a delicious sweet ginger broth). Our final stop was at a little coffee shop, which was the first coffee shop to make coffee with egg: coffee with whipped egg white custard on the top of the coffee. I had hot chocolate with egg custard instead since I don’t drink coffee. Both were incredibly rich; the Vietnamese are really adept at making coffee taste not like coffee. :) (another favorite in Vietnam is coffee with sweetened condensed milk, called “Vietnamese Coffee.”)
|Sitting in the tiny little plastic chairs and tables, |
trying out green papaya salad. Trang informed us that
at the end of the day the owners put the tables away
and sleep in this room where we were eating.
|Sitting on the balcony right next to the power lines with a metal birdcage|
hanging off of them behind Michele. Interesting decorating choice.
|Trang shows us how to correctly eat the Banh Xeo.|
|Girl making Bahn Cuon.|
|Banana flower salad.|
|Delicious grilled fish. (Trang called it grilled, but it definitely looked|
fried to me!)
|Snake wine. Mmmm, looks tasty...|
|Mot Hai Ba Yo!!! (notice I am the only one with any enthusiasm... :D )|
|A man making Bun Bo.|
|Trang shows us how to correctly mix the Bun Bo.|
|Time for dessert! Sua Chua Nep on the left and Bahn Troi Tau on the right.|
|Gavin enjoys coffee with egg custard on the top.|
|The skinniest building in old quarter. You can see|
how small it is by looking at the moped in front of it!
Finally, about 20 pounds heavier, we headed back to the hotel and laid around like blobs for a bit letting this ridiculous amount of food digest. We planned to meet and go to the Night Market at 7:30pm, but the concierge told us that the Night Market is only open on the weekends. So instead we went to plan B, which was yet more food.
Since we were a little (or a lot...) Vietnamese-fooded-out, we chose a French restaurant called La Badiane. We arrived and realized we were completely underdressed in our sneakers and jeans. I was still completely stuffed, so just ordered an appetizer as my meal; smoked salmon with goat cheese, fig jam and assorted other tasty bits on the place. All the food everybody had was delicious, enough that I wanted to share a dessert with Gavin, but he insisted that we each get our own. The desserts ended up being 4 DELICIOUS small desserts apiece, so I left that restaurant yet again feeling sickly stuffed. :)
|My fancy smoked salmon appetizer.|
|Michele's delicious soup.|
|Dessert was almost too pretty to eat, but who am I|
kidding? I'll never shy away from chocolate. :)
After dinner we took a taxi back to our hotel. We had one more day in Hanoi, but we spent most of the day just relaxing, so this is the end of the "blog-worthy" part of our trip. :)