Vietnam

I was recently in South East Asia and some of my travels brought me to northern Vietnam. That corner of the world is unreal! In Hanoi there’s so much chaos, so many sounds, smells, people, animals and motorcycles, all on tiny, meandering streets lined with shops and food stalls. There’s no respite from the heat and humidity, no peaceful corner; it’s overwhelming in every sense. But there’s a lot of beauty to be seen in the French-influenced architecture, in the narrow homes, the folk music and the ceramics.

 
 
 
 
And the food? Let’s talk about the food. Noodles, noodles everywhere, and every bit as delicious as I expected. Check out this pho:
 
 
 
 
So many beautiful handmade ceramics, I was in props heaven:
 
 
 
But my favorite, favorite thing I had there? Vietnamese coffe! It’s the best coffee I’ve ever had, it doesn’t compare at all with anything I’ve ever had in the US. It’s flavorful, strong, but not bitter, and often served with sweetened condensed milk (although it’s delicious even without it). I even had some Weasel Coffee which really lives to its reputation. It’s supposed to be one of the best (and most expensive!) coffees in the world and, at least to my untrained taste buds, it was the best coffee I’ve ever had. Weasel Coffee is basically made from coffee beans that were eaten by weasels and passed through their digestive tract (yeah, seriously). The coffee farmers then umm.. “extract” the coffee beans from the weasel “post-digestive by-product” (ha!), wash and roast them, and make coffee. The idea is that weasels only eat the best coffee beans, and therefore select for the tastiest ones. Apparently the digestive enzymes of the weasels also affect the flavor of the coffee, but I’m not sure how legit the science really is. MythBusters episode!
 
 
I also got to spend some time in Halong Bay, a beautiful bay a few hours outside of Hanoi. Now that place is dramatic! The geology of the region created these karst formations of limestone in the bay, but the scale of it is so vast we barely saw a small section of it in the two days spent there. It’s truly a place of beauty, certainly worth a trip all the way to Vietnam. 
 
 
And then I was finally able to rest: