ceF in vietnam – part 6
going coastal

October 23rd, 2010 · 16 Comments

one of the many astounding things i see in vietnam everyday…

i arrived in mui ne 2 days ago. it’s a haul from saigon, about 4 hours and i swear my driver takes valium for breakfast because he somehow manages to drive below the already painfully low speed limit. on the upside this allows me to practice a more zen approach to getting from a to b, which really, if it took, would be a very good thing for the likes of me who pretty much puts the pedal to the metal every chance i get. and then there’s the other benefit of the speed of life here in vietnam – i get to see everything around me for just a little bit longer.

i keep noticing how vietnam has its own static pace. whether you’re in the cities, in a village or on the water, the level of energy here feels constant. somehow this country has a certain grace to it. i feel it everywhere and it remains seemingly unchanging when i move throughout this land. vietnam just is.

for right now my travel adventures have been simple ones consisting of daily tasks such as finding a banh mi for breakfast (.50 and damn good), some aspirin (not as easy as you might think) and a few small custard apples for lunch. looking back, each of these little events were strangely fascinating in their own way – and i never so much as thought to pick up my camera. perhaps it’s all becoming ever so slightly familiar… could that even be possible?

the view from the door of my room

this place was right smack on the beach and really, just a perfect location. so there i was in my little bungalow with nothing around me but the sound of crashing waves. being that no setting could have topped this, and being that i was also a bit road weary and sleep deprived, i decided to order room service – take a chance on the food and sit out on my patio and have dinner.

if one were not to care about food, one may have enjoyed this immensely. case in point: here is a picture of my salad…

ok. the colors have been altered a bit to make this flashless night shot viewable. but what we have here is a squid salad. iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges, and chunks of battered and fried squid. it was dressed with that flawless concoction of lime juice, water, fish sauce and sugar – but still… c’mon. where are the fresh herbs? the cucumbers… and why was it fried?

to follow came a whole steamed fish on a platter which was very good and fresh. mui ne is a working fishing village – more on that in my next post – so one can expect great seafood here but the sauce was thickened with corn starch or the likes thereof and then ridden with this knorrs seasoning powder that is used over here with abandon. oh well. it was dinner and it was kind of fun in its own handicapped way. the setting was incredibly romantic and dining alone on the beach, sitting outside with the palm trees swaying in the night breeze is an interesting psychological exercise…

yesterday i didn’t follow michael’s advice and i allowed myself to be enrolled in mui ne’s cooking school on the beach. these classes are offered in nearly every town and it seems they all pretty much teach you various versions of pho, spring rolls and a salad, along with garnish cutting techniques. the instructor was sweet as she could be and reminded me of a little vietnamese wind up happy doll. her english was so heavily accented and lilted with cheeriness that i understood very little of what she was saying. 

the high points were twofold. a coconut smoothie over ice and ulricke, a very cool german woman who i went out to dinner with last night. she is lovely and we were up until 2 am drinking wine, sharing photos and swapping stories. 

ok, we talked about men. a lot.

banh xeo, a rice flour pancake with turmeric, stuffed with sprouts and shrimp

tomato skin flower. this was the instructor’s handiwork. i passed on making one of my own because i am of a rebellious nature… 

the salads here are my favorite. this one had shrimp and squid. the red pepper garnish magically reappears…

and there was more. but really, just being on the beach and in that environment was fun and funny and well, kind of wonderful. 


where we had dinner… super cheap and right on the beach… the vietnamese are very big fans of very bright lights. this, i could live without…

$11 bottle of wine. completely drinkable. the toilet paper napkins were more foreign to me than anything else last night…

grilled squid with lemongrass and chili sauce over sliced cucumbers. perfect.

and there were puppies! and this little guy and i hit it off bigtime. and then he crashed hard on my handbag.

he and i have a dinner date this evening…


Tags: asian · travel

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