One year later.

Along the "walking street" Nguyen Hue in Saigon.  The middle section is always pedestrian, and on Saturday and Sunday nights they close the periphery streets to allow for the massive crowds that show up. Most people have Sundays off, so folks come in from neighboring districts to hang out. Some nights you'll see a group of skateboarders showing off, other times a bunch of kids will get up and do some synchronized dancing.  Always someone with a guitar strumming along.  

Today marks my one year anniversary of living in Vietnam.  We arrived in Hanoi, bleary-eyed, hungover from too many in-flight cocktails, and feeling totally out of whack. I felt as though i'd landed on a different planet. 

I'd never been to SE Asia before, so I didn't know what to expect. And I think that's why I've enjoyed living here so much; i've been open to everything and didn't have any preconceived notion of what life would be like.  I have nothing to be upset about since I didn't cram my brain with unrealistic ideas.  And the journey has been enlightening.  I've eaten a lot of great food and met a some amazing people.  I can't wait to see what further adventures are in store for me.

Some of the following pictures are up on my Instagram, and some on my Twitter feed.  There's also a few from trips to Cambodia, when i've had to leave the country to get my Vietnamese visa renewed.


Vietnamese custom: men pull their shirts up and hang out like this.  I'm thinking they do this when they're comfortable and happy in their surroundings. I think this is pretty great.

When we lived in Go Vap, one of the northern working class districts of Saigon. This kid danced through dinner then wanted to kiss me.


My first day in Saigon. View from my hotel room at the Park Hyatt Saigon (i've stayed in swanky places in Vietnam, and i've also stayed in some real hell holes. I've been lucky to see both.  I'd recommend the Park Hyatt, but their beds are not remotely comfortable. Like sleeping on a hard rock). Billboard commemorating the National Holiday on September 2.  It's since been replaced by a Budweiser ad.

The main post office in Saigon's District 1 has a couple of really beautiful mural maps that date back to French colonial times.

And sometimes I like to pop a squat and meditate at the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens. I wasn't in a proper seated position since I was wearing a skirt, and didn't want all and sundry to see my bits and parts.


First meal in Saigon? pho.  My first meal in Hanoi was pho as well. Hey, when in Rome.

Go Vap street food. This is stuffed squid over rice and cost less than $1 USD. You can eat really, really well on the cheap while living here.

Saigon River estuary, view from my old apartment in District 7.  I didn't particularly like living here because I felt very isolated and far from everything, though the views were amazing.  You could see storms coming in; it was wild.

Grilling out on the rooftop with Vietnamese college students in District 12, New Year's Day. Clams, okra, squid. We also had a hot pot (I believe those are also called "steamboats" in some countries).

American-style burgers at Relish & Sons in District 1.  The one on the left is a pho burger ('bun' made of noodles).

This is my friend Trang and her owl Ri. Isn't Trang gorgeous?

Some type of rice noodle soup at the Rex Hotel. I eat a lot of soup. This one had pork, prawn, quail egg and a nice simple broth.

Peking Duck, skin being removed and folded into pancakes along with some spring onion, at the dim sum place inside the Windsor Plaza Hotel in District 5.

Japanese noodle house in District 1. I find it interesting that I have eaten more Japanese food since I moved to Vietnam than I have in my whole life.  There are a few really extraordinary Japanese restaurants here, one of them about a 45 second walk from my house.  I eat udon noodle soup about 4 times a week.

This is at a restaurant near my house where they serve only two things, one of them being spring rolls.  Each order is one massive spring roll served with rice noodles, and it's delicious.

Above Danang. American bunker left over from the war.

Food vendor next to the bunker. She carries everything she needs in a big bag, and sets up shop wherever there's a reasonably flat surface.

View from my hotel room in Hoi An. It didn't suck. We stayed at the Nam Hai, and you must look it up online. Probably the nicest hotel i've ever stayed in; the rooms look like they belong amongst the pages of Architectural Digest.  Each room also comes with an outdoor shower (in addition to the fancy indoor one), should you be so inclined to bathe outdoors. I think all homes should have one. I love outdoor showering.

Tra Que Vegetable Village, an organic vegetable farm outside of Hoi An.  This farm has been around for 300 odd years, and they use seaweed as fertilizer.  They also offer cooking classes. We went for a 50 mile bike ride one day through Hoi An and the neighboring fishing villages; it was amazing.  Got caught in a pop-up storm during the last hour of riding. Came back with hundreds of photos, some great memories, and a fantastic sunburn.


Riding a water buffalo, outskirts of Hoi An.

Rice paddy, outside of Hoi An.

My good ol' friend, the durian.  It's currently durian season, and they're being sold all over the place.  I've gotten used to the smell by now. These were on display at a market in Hoi An.

Cat hanging out in the Temple of the Jade Mountain on Jade Island in Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword), Hanoi

Morning at the market, Hue.  I took about a hundred pictures of just food stalls that day.  So many new (to me) things, so many colors.

Metropole Hotel, Hanoi.  This is at the outside bar near the pool looking up at the old building.  We stayed in the old section (there's also a new section); the rooms are small but have lost none of their French colonial charm.   It was such a pleasure to call the Metropole my first home in Vietnam.

Delicious things fermenting. Market stall in Hue.


Shrimp farm on the road between Hue and Danang.

Scared out of our gourd on the back of a tuk-tuk by a crazy ass driver who totally floored it and serpentined all over the place.  Gave him an extra big tip for the adrenaline rush. Siem Reap, Cambodia.


Ruins at the temple of Ta Prohm in Cambodia, aka "the Jungle Temple" since it was a filming location for the movie Tomb Raider.

Monkey at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.  There are monkeys everywhere.
Beef lok lak topped with a fried egg.  Siem Reap, Cambodia.


For lunch today, I had this.  Sea bass and ginger dumpling soup. The broth is SERIOUSLY the shit.  I want to bathe in it.  This bowl costs about $3 USD.  @ Phat's Dumpling House in District 2. 


My first pizza in Saigon at Pizza 4Ps in District 1, with a big ol' blob of their homemade burrata atop. Bliss.  P4Ps sells burrata to pretty much everyone else in Saigon who has burrata on their menu, including the Park Hyatt Saigon.

Larry and my friend Hai, who was afraid to walk across the suspension bridge on her own (it swayed and has the occasional hole where boards have rotted away through the years). Somewhere deep in the jungle, Ben Tre province, Mekong Delta.

Fanning the flames at a restaurant along the canal near my house.
 

With my friends Linh and Cami in my apartment during a crazy party.

And one time I ate ice cream for lunch. As one does.


Comments

Beth said…
Great photos! Enjoying your blog so much.
french tart said…
Thanks, toots. Ditto to yours. Which reminds me I need to do some catch up reading yours while I caffeinate myself this morning.

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