Just another Tuesday

Since being in Vietnam I’ve had more than a few people ask me what a typical day is like, with my computer in the shop and having a major dislike for long messages composed via my phone I said I’d update when I got my computer up and running again. Welp it’s finally fixed up so here you go a “typical” Tuesday for Tom and I……

While tiny this sucker is still twice the size of the one I had in India!

Our tiny on demand water heater

Up around 6:30-7ish (I’m sure our respective relatives are probable in shock reading this, I don’t know perhaps the time difference has helped us to become morning people!?), Tom jumped on his computer to start work as I tried my hardest to stay in bed and warm. Failing miserably at keeping warm without my personal heater aka Tom, I got up and turned on the hot water heater in hopes a hot shower would warm me up. Thirty minutes later after the water was heated I took an all too short hot shower.  After waiting an appropriate amount of time for his water to heat up Tom took his all too short shower and we were off for the day.

Last night we went to Quán Bia Minh a favorite restaurant of mine when I studied here in college which has since become quite popular. Being a cold drizzly day we decided to head back there for breakfast to enjoy the heated balcony (read coals in tin cans) and extensive Vietnamese and Western style breakfast menu.

Tom was excited for breakfast not involving noodles

View from Quan Bia Minh

Stuffed and happy we headed off to work. Today’s office was stationed at Illy Cafe over looking Hoan Kiem Lake.

Hard at work

View from the office

Done with our morning stint of work, (our plan is to break our work day into two segments working 4 hours in the morning and 4 at night to try and align with East Coast hours as best possible) we headed home to drop off our laptops before running errands.

Heading into our neighborhood

Heading into our neighborhood

Walking home

Walking home

 As we rounded the corner into our alley way we were pleasantly surprised by a jack fruit vendor standing right outside our door! It’s hard to describe how delicious these sweet morsels of nature’s candy are, I really don’t think I can do it justice. If you’ve ever had the good fortune of tasting one you know what I mean. So of course we treated ourselves to some.
Jack fruit pure goodness!

Now running errands in the States is not usually something to write home about but in Vietnam it’s nothing short of a death defying, somewhat hilarious and often jaw dropping experience when you factor in the crazy drivers, lack of or total disregard for traffic laws, cultural differences and language barriers. Surprisingly we were able to get most of our errands accomplished in a reasonable time and with very little need for charade like gestures.

Passed a liquor store on our travels. 2 gallons of questionable alcohol anyone?

Passed a liquor store on our travels. 2 gallons of questionable alcohol anyone?

Stumbling along a market I recognized from my college days I suggested we head in to explore, ever the adventurist Tom had no objections. I may have been here before but it was just shocking as the first time and an even better experience seeing it through the eyes of someone who’s never encountered the mayhem of this exotic packed labyrinth that is Hanoi’s largest indoor market.

Turtles, squid, clams

Turtles, squid, clams

Tom checking out the seafood

Tom checking out the seafood

Frogs

Frogs

More seafood

More seafood

Dried shrimp

Dried shrimp

Giant cinnamon sticks

Giant cinnamon sticks

Legumes

Legumes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above pictures were just the outer layer. Once inside it was a packed to the max, claustrophobia inducing, every man for himself, free for all shopping experience, think Black Friday on steroids.

Well at least they have extinguishers?

Well at least they have extinguishers?

iPhone jeans?

I didn’t know Apple made jeans

Looking out from the market's second floor

Looking out from the market’s second floor

We made it!

We made it!

Having embraced as much as the mayhem as we could tolerate we headed out for some fresh air, personal space and snacks. In this country with street vendors at every turn you don’t have to walk far to stumble upon some mouth watering grub. Finding some delicious looking totally unknown substances we knew we had to give it a try. From what we could ascertain the sausage tasting fried meat skewers were meant to be wrapped up in lettuce, basil, mint and rice paper a do-it-yourself spring roll! YUM! Tom also had a fried pastry snack filled with your typical spring roll stuffing, more YUM!

Oh the anticipation!

Oh the anticipation!

So good!

So good!

No quite stuffed and not wanting to fill ourselves too much with any one thing we settled up for about $2 and made our way into a near by alley way for some more culinary adventures. The other evening we came upon a restaurant in our neighborhood specializing in snails. Exotic, foreign and totally out of the norm Tom was instantly set on trying some not wanting to miss out I hopped on the bandwagon. When we came upon a street stall with a basket full of snails outside there was no question where we’d give it a try. That was easier said than done.

Snails yum?

Snails yum?

After a game of charades trying to make it clear we wanted the snails and not pho we resigned ourselves to eating whatever the women decided to put in front of us. Apparently our silly gestures actually worked (well kinda) and we were presented with some bbq meat of some sort, there’s still debate on whether it was actually the snails at this point we think we had bbq pork fat but either way it was good, seriously not as gross at it sounds. Our random meat was accompanied by some fried seafood (maybe snail filled?) spring rolls and a surprise serenade!

Stuffed and happy once again we took a leisurely stroll around the lake.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake

We wandered into a super market for some essentials and browsing entertainment.

Sushi flavored chips

Sushi flavored chips

Birds nest with honey

Birds nest with honey

Done with our browsing and  stocked up with the essentials we headed home to drop everything off and pick up our kindles for some much needed  down time at a near by hostel we had passed earlier in the day.

Enjoying a cold beer and a good read.

Enjoying a cold beer and a good read.

Well rested and having met up with a fellow traveler from San Fran who gave us some valuable insights on future destinations we said goodbye and headed out for dinner.

Dinner

Dinner

Lamb on a stick (or so we were told), fried meat spring roll, fried seafood spring roll and coconut coated shrimp with a creamy slightly spicy dipping sauce was supper. A delicious cholesterol boosting meal until Tom noticed the distinct smell of ammonia coming from our shrimp, I was so oblivious to the pungent smell I at a half of one without even noticing! However, once he pointed it out the odor was unmistakable and quite overwhelming. Now for some unknown reason after I snapped not to eat anymore after having a moment of panic my dear Tom decided it was a good idea to eat two more shrimp. Apparently he was so hungry and it was, “just so good!” that even a freaky ammonia smell wasn’t enough to stop him. After our questionable dinner we went to a cafe for some coffee to help get us through the the work night.

Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk

Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk

An entire post could easily be devoted to the wonders that is Vietnamese coffee, liquid crack for the caffeine addict it’s sweet, thick and merely saying it’s strong is a gross understatement. Back at home around 8-ish we got back to work and researched what the heck was going on with our stinky shrimp. Tom’s reaction says it all…..

Tom's reaction when he found out what that ammonia smell meant.

Tom’s reaction when he found out what that ammonia smell meant.

Apparently the ammonia smell is caused by growth of bacteria in the shrimp which can cause food poisoning so yeah we were a bit concerned. A bit nervous about things that might go bump in the night in our tummy’s, we cuddled up and said goodnight.

Luckily I can say we survived without having to pray to the porcelain goddess that night and lived to see another day.

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One response to “Just another Tuesday

  1. Ashley – LOVE your blog! I’m so glad we all get to keep up with your adventures. It looks like you two are having a great time! LOVE & MISS you!!!! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

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