Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hong Kong & Vietnam Day 7

It's about 8 in the morning. Our driver was picking us up and we were going to head to Nha Trang. It's an 8hr drive give or take. We left early so that we could sleep in the car. We checked out of our hotel. This is the view from one of our rooms. We arrived last last night so I didn't get to really see what the city looked like. It was a gorgeous morning.
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The street outside the Beautiful Saigon Hotel.
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Before we left for our travels. My friend's Aunt and Binh picked us up beer, soda, and fruit for our road trip.
There were 5 of us total and we had rented a driver for 4 days and a comfortable 7 passenger Honda van. It was super comfortable. Eden on the left and Alvin on the right. Eden loves Durian. He was eating it like it was an apple.
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Eden was making it look so good that Alvin wanted to try it too. Alvin did not like it.
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One of the things I like about Vietnam is that they rarely use any coins. I love it. Everything fits in the wallet. For once I can say I'm a millionaire!
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I always thought these were Lychee, but it's actually Rambutan.
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Fresh Logan. So juicy and so sweet.
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I think that mountain was in an amusement park. I snapped a lot of photos while on the road.
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On our way to Nha Trang. I stopped off and visited my aunt for the first time. I have never seen her before. I have talked to her on the phone. She was worried that she wouldn't recognize me, but she says I look just like my dad. My aunt looks just like her other sister that lives here in the states. She evens sounds like her too. It was so nice to see her and my cousins for the first time.
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Their business is fixing mopeds.
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Here we all are just hanging out waiting for coffee.
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My Aunt's Arowana
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Saw these giant figures next door to my aunt's place.
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We took my aunt and cousins out to eat. Crazy thing is this restaurant belongs to an old friend of my brothers. He just moved out there about a year ago. He recognized me. I haven't seen him since I was a kid.
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We ate and drank. We had a huge meal. We got a bottle or Hennessy Privilege for $30 US. I might as well say it now, but when I refer to prices it's going to be in U.S dollars unless otherwise noted.
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One of the things Son wanted to do while on our travels was to eat exotic foods. That is a mole of some kind and yes we ate it.
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Some pictures of the restaurant. The weather in Vietnam was great. Especially coming from Hong Kong. It was easy to adjust. To me it was perfect. Very little humidity and the sun was out.
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Beef salad.
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Fried calamari.
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Sauteed clams.
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This is Tiet canh (it's a traditional dish of blood and cooked meat. The most popular is duck blood and duck meat)

This one is made from the mole and yes I tried it. I have had the duck type, but not mole. You only live once. This was not as good as duck, but then again it could have all been in my head because I knew it was mole.
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Some fried rice.
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My little cousin. He was so funny. He was telling my aunt that he wanted to go to Nha Trang with us.
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Shots, Shots, Shots!
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More of the mole. This dish was chewy. Not much flavor.
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and even more mole. They ended making 3 dishes with the mole. This was really good though. It was like a stew. The meat was very tender and flavorful.
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After lunch and a bunch of drinking we hoped in the car and were on our way. We just passed out in the van.
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Part way through our trip we stopped off to grab some coffee for the driver. I love Vietnamese Coffee. Which is totally different from American coffee. (It's finely ground Vietnamese-grown dark roast coffee individually brewed with a small metal french drip filter into a cup containing about sweetened condensed milk, stirred and poured over ice)
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It looks like mud, but sooo good.
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We left out hotel around 9am and we didn't arrive until 8pm. It ended up being about a 10 hour drive. We did stop off to visit my aunt for a bit. So that delayed us and we hit quite a bit of traffic if that's what you want to call it. It was nice to see the country side for the first time, but I would recommend flying to Nha Trang instead if you get the chance. You lose out on so much time on the road. Plus there road conditions are nothing like the States and most of the roads outside the big cities were pretty much one way each. So there wasn't really a freeway of any sorts.

We checked into our hotel first and then headed off for some food. It was pretty late by this time and a lot of places were closing. Here's a picture from our hotel floor.
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The streets outside our hotel. I forget where we were staying, but a friend of our in the states knew an uncle that owned the hotel so she booked it for us.
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We stopped whatever restaurant that we could find that was open. We had heard that Nha Trang was known for their seafood. So we had to try some.
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Fresh crab.
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We ordered some Clams or some sort I think.
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Some crab.
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Jalapeno fried rice.
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We also had some lobster. This was really good. It had a garlic butter type sauce on it.
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Picture of the water outside the restaurant.
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After we got back from the restaurant we called it a night. It was a Tuesday night and we were pretty tired. We did see a street cart across from our hotel and I had to check it out. My friend had shown me videos of Saigon and how the food is so cheap. I saw that the cart was selling Bun Rieu. (it's served with tomato broth and topped with crab or shrimp paste. In this dish, various freshwater paddy crabs are used, including the brown paddy crab found in rice paddies in Vietnam. The crabs are cleaned by being placed in clean water to remove dirt and sand. The crabs are pounded with the shell to a fine paste. This paste is strained and the crab liquid is a base for the soup along with tomato. The crab residue is used as the basis for the crab cakes)


I ordered one. I know we just ate, but I just couldn't pass this up. I asked the lady how much it was. She mumbled something. I thought she said 100,000 dong which is $5 She said are you crazy? It's 15,000 dong which ended up being about .75 cents. I was like OMG! I would have easily paid $5 or more for this back in the states. I was still getting used to the prices in Vietnam. 
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There was a Vietnamese Che (is a Vietnamese term that refers to any traditional Vietnamese sweet dessert soup or pudding.) cart next to the lady and I had to try some.

I ate it before I snapped a pick. Sorry couldn't wait. .60 cents was the cost.
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It was time for bed and we were ready for it. This is our room. It was very spacious. It was way better than Beautiful Saigon and about the same price, but then again we were in a different city though.
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Once again the shower toilet combo. Even there this one had a tub. There was nothing there to block the water from splashing onto the toilet.
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We had a balcony.
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The view from our balcony.
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It was a long drive that day. We spent way too much time in the car. I'm glad we had finally made it to Nha Trang. I was ready for what tomorrow had in stored for us.

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