Episode 39: Two Days and Three Nights in Vietnam (Part 1)

Night 1 – Oct. 4

MC and I arrived at Ho Chi Minh City just before midnight, Vietnam time. (It’s one hour behind Manila time, GMT +8.) The trip took us about three hours, though we actually arrived quite early, notwithstanding the weather.
Kim, our host and a close acquaintance of our father, met us at the arrival area, along with her brother. She’s just as old as me, and owns a store outside the port area where our dad’s ship is docked. She helped arrange our accommodations and our itinerary for the next few days.

After several minutes of going around the city, we ended up at Dinky, one of the remaining open seafood restaurants in the city. It was late, after all. I was expecting a light meal of pho or banh mi, but I realized we were in for a real treat.

For dinner, we first had flower crabs, lightly fried and served with sautéed onions and fresh herbs. These were thinner and lighter than the usual crab, but they were bursting with fat and meat, and they were fresh, sweet, and just as tasty.

These were followed by a plate of roasted rice snails. The snails were tough and chewy and they tasted like a mix of freshwater fish and bland meat. They were easy to eat, though. How compelling.

Next was a big plate of shrimps, along with several bowls of thick soup with crab meat and seaweed. I rarely eat shrimp since they’re expensive, but it was quite surprising to find out that seafood is quite cheap in Vietnam.

What piqued my interest was the assortment of dips served along every dish. There’s vinegar and soy sauce mixed with herbs and spices like lemongrass. One of them was a mix of salt, lemon juice, and chili. The spicy-salty-sour mix was perfect.

“What would you like to drink?” Kim asked.Being the low-self-esteemed guy that I am, I ordered the cheapest drink in the menu – the one worth 15,000 dong.
“I’ll try ba-ba-ba.”

 

I didn’t expect Kim to look delighted that I know 333 Beer. “Ba-ba-ba is popular,” she said. It seems 333 is to Vietnam what San Miguel Beer is to the Philippines. SMB has a heavy aftertaste that suits the Filipino’s taste buds. 333 Beer tastes lighter but just as crisp and refreshing.

The Vietnamese love their seafood, I thought as I looked around. I was not able to read the whole menu, but I could see the place served a huge variety of fish, crabs, and other seafood. They also serve a lot of vegetable and noodle dishes, and the locals eat more of these than meat or rice. This could be why they look lean and energetic. Just what you can expect from a country rich in agriculture.

We were set to stay at the Duxton Hotel Saigon at District 1, Ho Chi Minh’s central urban district. MC said it was one of the best hotels in the city. From there, we would meet up with Kim and go sight-seeing in the next few days.

It was about three in the morning when we arrived to our rooms at Duxton. We were full, a bit buzzed but quite satisfied with our midnight feast. We only have a few hours to rest, but it didn’t matter. We’re going around the city in a while.

Wait, what was I supposed to avoid again when I have gout?
————————————

Up next… A quick tour around Ho Chi Minh City.

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