[Outside of Cong Caphe]
Welcome to the capital city of Vietnam, where it’s pouring rain and colder than Western Canada! What a shock to the body. Nevertheless, it was time to explore! Approximately 6 hours and MANY kilometres later, I managed to visit the Old City Gate (twice by mistake), Dong Xuan Market, St Joseph Cathedral, Ly Thai To Statue, Luong Yen bus station to buy my ticket to Cat Ba for tomorrow, walked around Hoan Kiem Lake (twice, again by mistake), and wandered through the bustling streets of the city. After weaving around the busy roads and alleyways, I noticed a pattern in the shops and vendors. Each street was dedicated to a certain type of good. One street was only selling silk, known as the “silk street”. Then there was a street with just electronics, another street filled with shoes, trinkets and tea sets on the next street over, clothing on every corner, and the list goes on. You also can’t miss the abundance of North Face stores. They are literally everywhere! Whether they are counterfeit or just leftovers from clothing manufacturers, I’m not entirely sure. They weren’t even THAT much cheaper, but for the ill-equipped traveler who didn’t bring a warm jacket or those who decided to do a last minute trek, it was well worth it. I actually felt like I was back in Vancouver, with everyone walking around in active wear while trying to dodge umbrellas and puddles.
From all the wandering, I also managed to fulfill many food cravings along the way. It started with a pineapple bun, followed by bánh rán (sesame donuts), bánh canh chả cá (Nha Trang noodle soup with crab), fresh bánh tiêu (hollow donuts), and cà phê trứng (egg coffee). Most of these items were ones that I missed from home, but the egg coffee was a delightful new experience! This Vietnamese style coffee is prepared by whipping egg yolks with sugar and coffee. The coffee is then extracted and poured into a cup, followed the by the foam. It tasted like a mixture of tiramisu and creme brûlée! Unreal!
Apart from my 8 kilometer detour to the bus station, I essentially did my own walking food and city tour. The night ended with beers and another delicious meal with my new roommate. There’s something I really enjoy about sitting on these low plastic chairs outside all the bars and restaurants. Makes for a very cool atmosphere with a local feel!
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”