After a long, hot stop-over in Bangkok and a surprise present of the fecal kind in Jack’s luggage from his cat, we arrived in Hanoi to temperatures well below what we were prepared for (a sign of two very well organised teenage travellers, obviously).
That being said, there is nothing quite like being cold and hungry in a new place and finding yourself being given the nod to sit down on two tiny plastic stools by someone on the street with a cart of food in front of them and boiling pot behind them. Within minutes you have the warmth and impending satisfaction of eating the steaming bowl of noodles, beef, herbs, spring onions and broth that is being placed in front of you for breakfast.
Thank buddha for pho*.
Add as much chilli, lime, fish sauce, mint, basil and garlic as you like to your pho. It’s all yours to tweak. I recommend all of it.
If noodle soup for breakfast is not your thing, then have no fear, cause Vietnam in all its glory has learnt a few things from the French over the years that they hung around(?) in the 19th and 20th century. That being, pastries… and bread.
Some got their own twists with coconut and banana like the coconut scroll down below, and some stayed as simple as the flaky, buttery goodness that is a croissant.
Baguettes were everywhere as well so when lunch time comes around, find yourself a happy cow cream cheese wheel or a big hunk of meat from the lady whose roasted pork belly and duck is bringing a small crowd of locals and stuff that bread up full. Trust me.
Leaving our hotel after 10am meant that I missed the warm street pho I had been dreaming about all night as all the stalls vanish and others take their place. Others bringing bún chả.
Bún chả has the lot, with fried rice paper spring rolls, grilled pork, fried egg, lettuce, herbs and enough noodles to feed a small army. Sweet, fresh and filling, this meal we usually meant didn’t have to eat anything – minus the tube of Pringles, of course – until dinner time.
All these elements, especially the pork, were cooked fresh, fireside and roadside.
Pho-filled** and cat poo free we headed onwards to Halong Bay and its beautiful city.
*Pronounced FUH (almost like f#@k as my mother so gracefully pointed out).
**I had no intention of that being a pun but still have no shame in saying that I laughed very hard when I realised what I’d done.