As Daniel began to finally settle into a decent sleep routine (still nothing perfect, but workable) we also hit our stride with the street food searches as well. Whereas before we didn’t stray too far from home when we first arrived, in our last few days we began to grab a taxi one way so we could reach a few further out places and still have a nice walk there or back.
We continued to frequent the market every day as well, and never stopped finding new back alleys to explore. We discovered that when Jesse would carry Daniel in his arms, the street food vendors were much quicker to take him from us to play. This was a win for everyone as we got to eat in peace and Daniel got all the attention he wanted. The food vendors seemed pretty happy too!
We thought we’d had our share of good noodle soups until one morning we went searching for a new one called Bun Mam. It’s broth is made from fermented fish sauce which makes it a pretty bold flavor to begin with, but it’s balanced with tamarind juice and sugar. Vermicelli noodles are then topped with eggplant, shrimp, chunks of white fish, squid and -get this- crispy pork belly slices! The usual mountain of fresh herbs and a tamarind dipping sauce round it off. We loved this dish so much we went back the next day for more – but to a different stall that served it with deep fried fritters! We’re still dreaming of it. So amazing.
We also managed to do our token single museum visit of the trip, this time to the “War Remnants Museum”, previously known as the “Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes.” Not exactly an uplifting experience, but certainly eye-opening. There were giant tanks and fighter jets parked outside that you could walk around and get really close to (oddly some parents would plop their children in front of the machine guns on top of the tanks for photo ops). The enormity and scale of these machines and vehicles was pretty startling. Inside it was mainly an artifact and photo gallery of different themes like “Historic Truths” and “Agent Orange Aftermath”. It can get pretty emotional in there, even just reading some of the quotes from the different political or military leaders from the U.S. and Vietnam at the time. I was a bit worried bringing Daniel through it to see all the photos, but Jesse assured me he would not have any idea what was going on. Those types of visits always make us so thankful for the safe and sheltered life we were lucky to have in Canada.
Staying in the same place for a week also allowed us to get familiar with some of the locals around us – mainly because of Daniel. Often they would wave and want hold him when we walked by – always touching his cheeks, smiling and making sucking noises. We never found out their names, but we will have fond memories of “the grilled pork chop lady”, “amazing English-speaking Com Tam man”, “restaurant beside Bun Cha lady”, “bun bo hue ladies” and “sewing machine lady”. All made our stay in Saigon a little more personal and memorable!
Exploring Saigon was a wonderful way to spend our first week in Vietnam. We loved the city and the neighborhood we were in, and I’m sad to admit it but I think the food was better here than in Hanoi. I’m already looking forward to our last few meals here before we head home!
To help give you a better idea of what the traffic is like, here is a time lapse video Jesse took on our drive from the apartment to the airport before we left:
And below is a quick run down of some of the other yummy foods we tried that week…
Bun Bo Hue (Beef bone flavored broth, spicey and lemongrassy. Our second favourite next to the Bun Mam!)
Com Tam (Rice, veggies and then choose whatever dishes are on offer. This place was just around the corner from our apartment and we went often because the food was good and the people were lovely. Our favorites were the classic grilled pork chop with fried egg, sweet and sour fish soup, slow cooked beef and tomato, bitter melon stuffed with pork and mushrooms)
Banh Xeo and Banh Khot (giant crepe filled with different meats and little fried rice flour pancakes – all wrapped in herbs, lettuce and rice paper rolls and the dipped in fish sauce. Yum!)
More Banh Mi (finally found some good ones! Filled with grilled pork chops, fried egg and one with a ridiculous amount of sliced meats!)
Actual Travel Dates: March 17 – 20, 2015