Hoi An(other bánh mì please)

Not One Crumb Left Takes Asia

 

Taxi driver: “Where are you from?”

Us: “Australia!”

Taxi driver: “Ahhh Kangaroo!

Us: “Haha yep that’s us”

Taxi driver: “Sydney, Melbourne?”

Us: “Oh, um… no, Brisbane…”

Taxi driver: “Oh… I don’t know.”

Us: “Yeah, that’s okay, man.”

I couldn’t tell you how many times we had this conversation after jumping into the back of a taxi. The same one, every time. Poor old Brisbane. It was a conversation we managed to avoid in the lovely city of Hoi An however, where just about all the food, culture and sights you could see were in walking or biking distance of our hotel.

Hoi An’s uber pretty, lantern filled, cobblestoned old town was a tourist’s delight and left me wondering why I did need to eat those extra two doughnuts .image

Yep, on every corner  there was a food cart selling doughnuts, banana pancakes and coconut buns freshly fried up for you on the spot.

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Living it up with $2 pho for breakfast almost made us too full to down these treats for morning tea but it was so worth it.

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And then there was lunch.

‘What?’ you’re thinking, ‘Surely she couldn’t fit in lunch as well after all of this?’

No, no, there was bánh mì to be had, of course we kept eating!

Super simple, so satisfying and just all round delicious bánh mì.

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Kudos to the person who looked at the Vietnamese salad their mum just whipped up for them at lunch and thought ‘You know what, I’m going to put this into one of those baguette things that  the French brought over.’ (Real historical account, obviously).

The incorporation of Vietnamese flavours into the sweet and chewy setting of the humble baguette is a winner and leaves you wanting more every time. Seriously.

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The choices of ingredients are endless and give a new flavour to the sandwich with every addition. Add some cream cheese and extra chilli sauce to your spit roasted pork with the salad and you will not regret it. Alternatively, buy a baguette from your local French bakery and/or the lady with her bicycle basket filled with them and load that up with whatever you can find.

So, as you can probably tell, the four days in Hoi An were mostly spent eating but in between we managed to squeeze in a bike ride through the country side, believe it or not. I may sound irrational when I say this, but after years of not touching a bike, I think it’s possible I forgot how to ride one. I fell off twice going at the grand speed of 10km an hour. But anyway, moving on.

We made it unscathed to have a brush with fame at the house of the oldest and probably happiest couple in Hoi An. 12744465_10153877768519383_3003539746545344796_n

He was 94 and she was 88 and neither of them ever stopped smiling. This, I assume, was because their garden was so damn nice. Everyday, they  and their family work on the rows and rows of vegetables, herbs and flowers that could make even the hungriest of meat-eaters impressed.

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With the infectious happiness of Le Van So and Nguyen Thi Loi, we rode on our bicycles all the way to Nha Trang, 510km away.

Just kidding. We rode back to the hotel to our warm pho, chewy doughnuts, bánh mì and good company. Happy, happy, happy.

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First up, Hanoi: Capital of Vietnam, Land of the Pho

Not One Crumb Left Takes Asia

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.

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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.

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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.

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All these elements, especially the pork, were cooked fresh, fireside and roadside.

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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.