Good Morning Vietnam

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Latimer: What else could I call a blog post about Vietnam? It’s a phrase I overused so very much while in Vietnam. I said it basically every morning, and if I forgot, I’d say it mid-way through the day.

This post is a continuation of my trip around South East Asia, as it’s getting to the end of summer now; I find myself reminiscing more and more about my adventures in the past. They were so good; they make me consider what the next adventure will be!

But well, back to my South East Asian adventures! I had made it through Thailand and Laos, with lots of fond memories and exciting adventures, onward to Vietnam, a place that I was expecting to love, though I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting to love about it…

I was right about the loving part; it’s a gorgeous, bustling fun place, full of amazing places to see and history to learn about, all inter-spaced with yummy food, cool art and random livestock on bikes (the motorbike is everything in Vietnam!)

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Beer corner, Hanoi where local people sell beer and we all watch the crazy traffic go by, as we sit on the street and drink. Yup. I randomly met up with some of my China-travel buddies here too, so the world is a very small place guys!
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Bun Cha, Vietnamese delicacy, Hanoi
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Crash site of Senator John McCain’s plane, shot down by the Viet Con during the Vietnam war (it is still there in Hanoi where it fell)
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They are super happy about having shot down this plane, so it’s very well sign posted – I think it’s because Senator John McCain is a Senator now
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This is the Hilton Prison, Hanoi. Hilton was a nickname placed on the prison, by the prisoners, who were American POWs
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Motorbikes on the streets of Hanoi
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More yummy Vietnamese food!
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Uncle Ho (Ho Chi Minh) propaganda artwork for sale in Hanoi
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Artwork, Hanoi
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Chinese monument in Hanoi – there is a heavy Chinese influence in Vietnam, as the country was part of/occupied by the Chinese during it’s history (Vietnam feels like it has more Chinese influence than, Laos, Thailand or Cambodia)
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Halong Bay
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Sunset, kite-flying off the back of our boat in Halong Bay
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Yes, that is a cow on the back of a motorbike… yeah
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Food wraps and kawaii fingers, Hue
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Vietnamese dragon and my Chinese Travelling Buddha, in the Vietnamese ‘forbidden city’, Hue
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Just on the road in Vietnam, amazing
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Blurry Buddha and me in an old American war bunker, on the road
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The Mighty Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City (kinda)
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Fresh coconuts on the Mekong Delta
Travelling Buddha gets around, here he's at the Chu-Chi Tunnels
Travelling Buddha gets around, here he’s at the Cu-Chi Tunnels
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Tofu, noodles and veggies, yum!

I saw a lot of amazing places, but my favourite had to be the laid-back beautiful Hoi An, I could have spent a long time there, it was a small, but very lovely town?

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Beautiful wedding couple. As in Chinese tradition, red is the colour for the bride in Vietnam, not white
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Laid back streets of Hoi An
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Hoi An streets
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A bridge across the river, Hoi An
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Lanterns, beautiful Vietnamese lanterns
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Sunsets on its way over Hoi An!
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A cool eatery Hoi Ah, though it looks very Spanish or something!
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Super fresh noodles and yummy avocado smoothie (delicious!), Hoi An
Lanterns and more lovely Lanterns, Hoi An
Lanterns and more lovely Lanterns, Hoi An

Hoi An has a lovely river running through it. I went on a boat ride during the sunset and cast some lanterns out on the water, sending my wishes with it!

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It’s where people get clothes made lots of the time, but it has some cool art shops also, and also, the best tea shop I have ever been in in my whole life. It’s called Reaching Out Teahouse and it’s run by deaf and mute staff, so everything is done by indicating via the menu and also these little notes where you can ask for a re-fill of water etc. It is a Fairtrade shop and it works with people with disabilities in the community to find employment and live an independent life, so it’s well worth supporting. They also sell these amazing crafts in the shop – and all the tea cups and cutlery (metal and ceramic) are made by the Reaching Out artisans.

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Used to communicate with staff
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Iced coffee, with coffee ice… haha
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Crafts from the shop
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Traditional seating
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The tea tasting menu (3 types) – soooo good, plus you get three interesting treats with it! Like, eg., a sweet potato swirl, or green tea biscuit
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A platter of very interesting treats!

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The famous Vietnamese coffee (iced) – three type tasting menu here! It was so good!

It was really serene and it was nice to sit in this traditional style teahouse and look out of the open shutters at the front at the people passing by in the street. Some Chinese tourists randomly stopped in front of the windows and took photos with us Westerns in the background, which was… well, hilarious and random, but I had noticed this happened a lot in China also, so I was kind of used to it, in a very weird way!

Vietnam was a brilliant place, I would definitely go back. Maybe one day I will, but from there it was onward to the place I had wanted to visit the most, Cambodia (and the stunning Angkor Wat… what)!

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What’s for Dinner?

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Latimer: I’ve said this before (a lot!!), but honestly one of the best things about going to a different country is getting to eat their food! And I’m the sort of person who takes photos of the food they eat and Instagrams them – hence this post is photo heavy!

I love Asia food but I wouldn’t have ever said I particularly liked Chinese food. As with most countries, we have Chinese takeaways in Ireland and they’re fine. But having been in China, I don’t think they are making proper Chinese food (I think it’s Westernized to suit our palettes). But, I wish they weren’t, because as it turns out, proper Chinese food is so freckin’ good!

I was asked a lot about the food when I came home – people would grimace, ‘what did you eat?!’ Well, okay, to be honest in Chinese food, they use everything and the food is always fresh (i.e. the fish is alive in the tank then cooked and put on your plate). It’s harsh to look at, but you have to respect that Chinese people know where their food is coming from; we eat the steak and the pork and we don’t think about how it got there.

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Weighing the fish
And here the fish is cooked moments later (it's called Beer Fish a dish from Yangshuo)
And here the fish is cooked moments later (it’s called Beer Fish a dish from Yangshuo)

And they have some amazing food markets! The Muslim Quarter in Xi’an was one pretty cool food spot…

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Muslim Quarter Xi’an
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The yellow stuff is rice cake
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They are making this sticky bar type stuff from peanuts and honey… beating the crap out of it with mallets!
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A prune, fungus drink… wasn’t nice! 😦
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Roasted walnuts
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Kitchen in the Muslim Quarter
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A kitchen in the Muslim Quarter
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Making fried wraps
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Yummy fried wraps
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Squid on a stick!

From hotpots to noodles, to taro chips… I ate well in China!

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Meet in a bun… sooo good… and spicy cauliflower
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Noodles in Xi’an (they’re known for their noodles – this was the only time I had noodles actually! wow)
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Spicy beef
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Yummy spicy cabbage
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Sweet and sour fish in Beijing
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Dumplings in Xi’an
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Some seriously spicy hotpot in Chengdu (they have the best hotpots apparently!)
Do you see the brains? Yup... I did not try that! ah... ha... nooo...
Do you see the brains? Yup… I did not try that! ah… ha… nooo…
Spicy potato... Love me some spuds!
Spicy potato… Love me some spuds!

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We stopped off at a local woman’s house for lunch in Yangshuo. This green stuff (a type of lettuce I think?!) was soooo tasty… I could have ate the whole plate!
These were homegrown in the above woman's garden... yummy!
These were homegrown in the above woman’s garden… yummy!
Taro chips.... They could give potatoes a run for their money!!
Taro chips…. They could give potatoes a run for their money!!
I went to a cooking class and this was my end result.... not too bad?!
I went to a cooking class and this was my end result…. not too bad?!

If you ever go to China know that you are going to eat well!

And to round things off you’ll find some nice drinks too!!

This beers quite nice... and bloody massive - I could hardly hold it for this photo!
This beers quite nice… and bloody massive – I could hardly hold it for this photo!
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Strawberry soda
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coffee art… how can you drink it now!!
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More coffee art… so cute!!