Easy to Digest

Growing up, my brother and I often sought refuge in Readers’ Digest books.

I’ve found a hard cover classic here – add tropical weather and a big, frosty glass of freshly squeezed watermelon … who’s in a hurry to go back to the political morass of Australia? 🤠

– Vung Tau, Vietnam 

 

It’s all about the salad. And the pork. And the rice …

You don’t like eating vegies? Then come to South-East Asia: the salads are so good, sometimes I could treat the meat as the garnish. Not this time – I last recall eating pork this tender in Argentina. Oh, and at the Sofitel Wanda Hotel, Beijing. This lunch is charsui Hoi An pork with firewood cooked rice. (I don’t know what firewood does to steamed rice, but the menu says it’s “traditional”. It’s tasty.) USD$1.95, Câm An (a little, street corner eatery known for chicken), Vung Tau, Vietnam

Grass jelly in your belly

Black Grass Jelly: Suong Sao, also called Chinese Mesona, it’s from a type of mint plant.

Add sugar and ice, and Vietnamese love it.

Yes, I gave it a go. I found it odourless and tasteless – not a hint of mint – but really no diffrent to the jelly that Aussies eat as kids, minus the artificial coloring and flavoring.

This herb plant is probably full of healthy goodness…

A 24-carat lunch for $US3.40

Carrots add character: this colorful combo is fried egg, fried rice, salad and a chicken leg with a slightly spicy salsa of tomato, onion and carrot cubes.

It’s served in a “hot pot”, I presume for looks, as it’s all fried in the wok (except for the salad, derrr) at the restaurant”s streetfront kitchen.

Big serve, big taste, big value at USD3.40. I’ll be back again …

Morning coffee and an egg – but cooked, and not mixed together

Vietnamese Egg Coffee: I’ve tried – by God, I’ve tried – from Vung Tau to Phu Quoc, both iced and hot, I did my best, folks, but for me it is NOT.

*Pic: iced egg coffee version, and the raw egg yolk/sweet condensed milk forms a custardy curdle that is scooped with a spoon. It’s a treat for locals. I feel bad because it was given to me as a gift.  I’ve consumed a quarter of it … but I’m afraid the remainder is staying right where it is.

Double the Delights of Vietnam

Happy in Hanoi, GREG HACKETT hits the road to Vung Tau. Literally.

I came. I saw. I broke a big toe. (Apologies to Julius Caesar.) However, Vung Tau might just be my lucky break. I’ve been on the hunt for an “easily do-able” South-East Asian seaside destination to replace Cambodia’s diabolically destroyed Sihannoukville, and this south Vietnamese pearl is looking perfect. Even an aching toe (I don’t suppose you can sue a municipal council for an uneven footpath injury in this part of the world, eh? Haha) doesn’t seem so bad, with the aid of osteo-paracetemol, Saigon Green beer, a beach, and a thousand smiling faces.

Pullman Perfection

Variety is the essence of this Vietnam journey: imagine French Versailles one day, Ancient Sparta the next; from a Hanoi Pullman luxury suite to a standard room at Vung Tau’s Hoang Cam guesthouse. This is how I travel. And I love it.

My first time in Hanoi, and the Pullman makes it easy. An optician across the street from the hotel’s entrance is handy – I have my eyes checked with the hi-tech gadgetry, and order (with same day delivery) several new spectacles of the same or superior quality, and half the price, of those I bought in Melbourne. The Pullman is located on the edge of the Vietnam capital’s “embassies precinct”, with the Temple of Literature, Uncle Ho’s Museum and all the other bits and pieces that tourists seek. The Pullman’s concierge provides a map for a casual 40-minute “cultural walk”.

Embassy “Spy” tail

Now with good vision (and a full stomach from the breakfast buffet) I gladly put the map to use. As I strolled (or semi-hobbled, with a crook back) past the Ukraine embassy’s gated entrance, a 30-something, hair shortly cropped, blue eyed blond bloke, dressed all in trendy black, emerged with a beautiful Vietnamese girl. He nodded “hello” to me, and I nodded in acknowledgement and let them pass, as I further studied my “cultural walk” route. By pure coincidence, we headed in the same direction – him chatting to his young companion and darting glances back at me, and me schlepping along about 30 metres behind, happily absorbed in trying to decipher street directions. Ten minutes later, we passed the Chinese embassy and crossed the intersection, to Lenin Park. With a quick frown in my direction, he ducked out onto the street, stopped a taxi, hurriedly bundled his lady acquaintance into the back seat, jumped in himself, and off they sped to their … afternoon assignation.

The silly bloke. If he thought I was tailing him, Putin’s spies must now be half the height and twice the age!

Choice accommodation

Smaller, “no-frills” guesthouses and hotels (the ubiquitous sign Nhà Nghi in Vietnamese) suit a solo traveller such as myself, and the Hoang Cam guesthouse, at US$7 a night, ticks the boxes: fan and aircon, WiFi, mini fridge, cleanliness, location and a bonus balcony. However, for a traveller, a couple or a family wanting quality/price comfort, I can’t speak (or write) highly enough of the Hanoi Pullman. My many friends and contacts who have followed my travel writings over the years are familiar with my praise for the Accor accommodation properties Pullman/Sofitel/Novotel – because I’ve simply never had a problem with them. And I can be blunt in my assessment.

Travel Tip: Always tip the hotel/guesthouse manager the day you arrive, not the day you depart. It makes sense.
At Vung Tau’s Hoang Cam hotel, The reception lady mistakenly overcharged me when I prepaid my bill. The following day, the manager informed me and reimbursed the cash. Most Vietnamese and Cambodians are good like that …

https://asianjourneys.com.sg/eMagazine

Give a good account of yourself

Does Good Karma accrue interest? I haven’t made a withdrawal in ages but, I swear, I’ve been making a lot of deposits on my travels.

I found this debit card on the street; someone’s stressing out.

The bank’s branch is on the other side of town – of course – so I’ll have to get a taxi and do the right thing … it’s interrupting my “do nothing day”. Hassles. Haha