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 Name: Gutenberg

 Location: Somewhere near the Broadway Bridge.

 Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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March 20-31, 2015


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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Low expectations accompanied our orders of Hanoi Airport pho (55k VND each = $2.50 USD). The pork:

... had deli-seque slices of pork baloney-like meat while the chicken:

... was a bit overcooked and dry. The pork came with thin noodles while the chicken had the superior thick noodles.

Chopped cilantro and cabbage came with both.

We reved these ribbons with some pepper and garlic Chin-su sauce as well as some of the (actually hot) peppers:

... that were lurking in vinegar. These were the kickers that drove our dinner from Hanoi-ingly ordinary to interesting.

Hanoi Airport



Monday, March 30, 2015

Our favorite dish on the cruise was a joint effort of crew and passengers from night squid fishing performed yesterday evening.

Small squid were debeaked and briefly boiled.

Simple sides of salt, pepper, citrus and slice peppers combined into a tentacled triumph tent-poling salmon “tartar”, fresh spring rolls with prawn and mango:

... vegetable and clam soup:

...tuna Picatta style, red snapper with “American sauce” (which was sort of like a tartar sauce):

... juicy and tender pork ribs with sweet and sour sauce with veg and rice:

... followed by fruit:

... and green tea.

After a day of kayaking though tunnels in a truly awe inspiring bay we continued to be amazed by the islands scrolling by during lunch as we headed back to port.

Starlight Cruises



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sun Sot Cave was a warren of wonder during a walk through this calcium coated cathedral.

We returned to the boat for spring rolls:

... chicken soup:

... red snapper, shrimp:

... pork and veg with rice:

... and a taro coconut soup:

... before waves rocked us to sleep.

Starlight Cruises



Saturday, March 28, 2015

A four hour drive:

... to Halong Bay:

... landed us on a ship that was severely underbooked.

We were among a grand total of 3 tables of two lunching in the vast dining room:

... giving us a Shining-esque run of the vessel.

The staff outnumbered the guests by an order of magnitude and we received a warm welcome to our Jacuzzied room:

... where we lounged as we weaved our way between the behemoth boulders of Bai Tu Long Bay.

Our vantage points were both from our room and then over a lunch of shrimp and mango salad, beef with veg:

... crab soup:

...grilled salmon and stir fried seafood:

... chicken teriyaki with veg and rice:

... and dragonfruit, melons and grapes.

There was an effort to create good food but they are in a position to have to cater to tourists from all over so this was probably a stab at not alienating anyone.

Starlight Cruises



Friday, March 27, 2015

A big basket of herbs arrived with the banh xeo (45,000 VND = $2.00 USD) at Mr. Bay.

This large, wheat-based crepe was filled with beef, shrimp and bean sprouts.

We rolled slices of this circle into rice paper with torn up herbage:

... and dipped into a fish sauce strewn with strips of carrot.

Local lager washed down these sensational stumps (which were impressive special effects by Mr. Bay.)

Mr. Bay
79 Hang Dieu
Hanoi, Vietnam



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hanoi locals start their mornings with exercise by the lake, some are familiar forms while others are new on us.

The early morning streets are filled with vendors for the food stalls and restaurants:

...converting boutiques into butchers:

...and sidewalks into seafood sources. Prawns flap from the pavement, scales are scraped into the sewer, eggs, veg, fruits:

...and cooking utensils are sold before rush hour sets in.

These exchanges sourced elements of our dinner of bun cha (35,000 VND = about $1.60 USD):

... at Thanh Hop.

Grilled, bite sized pieces of pork, rice noodles, an assortment of herbs, green papaya, chili and thin slices of pickled garlic in a subtly sweetened fish sauce.

We happily hopped through this Hanoi specialty of smoky swine in a web of crunch, starch and heat in a slurps of herby, meaty cha-liciousness.

Thanh Hop
12 Dinh Liet St.
Hanoi, Vietnam



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A young girl spread rice flour batter on irons and rolled up the white sheets with chopsticks before sprinkling them with fried shallots. A dipping sauce for these Banh Cuon (25,000 dong = $1.25 US) provided pungency with fish sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, pickled garlic, lime and chili.

We plunked chunks of pork pate into the sauce and retrieved them with hunks of the noodlely, mushroom-mosaiced crepe brightened with a mixture of herbs which we enjoyed sitting on the sidewalk of this corner creperie.

Banh Cuon
59 Hang Dieu
Hanoi, Vietnam



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rats weren’t on the menu, but they dashed around the dining room:

... just as finished our bowls at Pho24.

This popular fast pho chain served up beef pho (49,000 VND = $2.25 US):

... and spring rolls (29,000 VND = $1.35 US):

... that seemed perfectly acceptable before the unappetizing appearance of Ratatouille.

Off putting as it may have been, we reflected - who are we fooling? It’s not like there aren’t rodents in US restaurants as well.

We rat-tired to the street where we got a local prepaid SIM card for our phone (100,000 VND = $5.00 US) at one of the storefronts incongruously labeled "Apple Store":

... and scurried away.

Hanoi, Vietnam



Monday, March 23, 2015

Skewers of pork were grilled to a cheery charrage:

... by a lady outside a nook where we grabbed a local bia (beer).

Saigon Special Lager might not be all crafty, but it did cool us off and it was pleasant along with that pig pole placed inside a roll with cilantro.

Bia Khanh Thuy
22 Luong Ngoc quyen
Hanoi, Vietnam



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Where else will you be served food with a sharp, unfinished spike of sheet metal as an eating utensil?

Our shiv-er ware sheathed in citrus served as eviction notices for Oc Nong:

These freshwater snails (about $1.00 US) at Ha Trang:

... were boiled in salt water with lemongrass and heaped in a bowl.

Trays are balanced on the short seats (across the street from the escargot depot) as bowls of chopped ginger with peppers were shared among the many customers to stir into a sweetened fish sauce with a chiffonade of lime leaves.

The dishwashing was done in a plastic tub on the street so this wouldn’t be a Felix Unger haunt, but this was phenomenal feed with tender tendrils of tang, heat, sweet and umami sensationally spiraling into the trail to our mouths. Required eating for sure.

Ha Trang
1A Dinh Liet Street
Hanoi, Vietnam



Saturday, March 21, 2015

St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Vietnam:

... backdropped cups of caffeine from our vantage point of petite plastic perches.

Sunflower seeds were the popular snack at this bustling, barista-bereft bunker. As much as we love the coffee situation at home, it’s refreshing to be in a defiliterized, Starbucks-fee zone.

The default position is sweet for brew, even “black” coffee is often augmented (as was our instant in-room hotel packet offerings and the pots at their breakfast).

Our pitstop perked us up to continue our day of skirting scooters.

Families of four smoosh onto motorbikes (with or without helmets) and become atoms in the particle accelerator that is Hanoi traffic.

The zebra crossings are for decorative purposes only and we have mastered the method of merging into the mayhem of motors with our slow, consistent, predictable strides with no sudden starts or stops.

We came across a march protesting the planned replacement of 6700 trees, cutting them all down at once and replanting which would strip away the appealing green that counterpoints the tangle of wires that border the streets. Happily, the campaign of these leaf lovers made the mayor put the clear cut on hold for reevaluation.



Friday, March 20, 2015

A long layover led us to a lap around the airport in Taiwan:

... where we checked to see if the prayer areas were popular with the mechanics (since wings are related to their work).

One of the worship warrens induced a double take with a flopped Fascist fake out:

... as we taxied down the walkway of this retail-intensive waiting room which boasted cool filtered water stations and brilliant phone recharging lockers.

Art exhibits, a library, and cute mascots have us looking forward to the flipside trip (minus the swap-skitka.)

Taipei Airport








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