Posts Tagged With: street food

Hanoi – A day in the streets & the market by night!

I found that when I was walking the streets of Hanoi, the energy from the locals was constantly sending me mixed signals. Food venders on the street might greet you when you smile into their bowl of mystery items and others pretend as if you don’t exist. Many tuk tuk drivers will offer you a kind ride, while others won’t hesitate to nip your heels along a cross walk. Maybe it’s because I was spoiled in Cambodia or that I’m usually staying with locals, but I was taken back by the overall “you’re just a tourist” vibe that dampened this city. I suppose thats what I get for visiting the second largest city in Vietnam. With that said, lets see what it has to offer!

Welcome to the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam!







Of course there’s a Pub… Haven’t found a country yet that doesn’t support an Irish drinking place!


These sweet girls welcomed me into their creative shop in which mostly everything was handmade by them right here in the store. What a beautiful group of ambitious ladies!



A breath of fresh air in this busy city can be found with a walk around the lake (the one seen from the balcony of the egg coffee cafe.




Like in most cities, as the sun goes down… the energy goes up!




The famous night market draws in a crowd looking for clothes, trinkets, food, drinks and pretty much anything else you can imagine that’s sellable to a willing customer.






This friendly couple from Sweden made dinner a treat by splitting a massive feast with me. Each table gets their own grill and a plate of raw food. You add the oil and seasonings, then stir-fry it up! I included the first photo just to show off my favorite mini table settings that the locals dine on.



If you’re not strolling the night market, just hitting the main streets will keep your eyes on the move!




Safety tips of the day:
1. Assuming pedestrians have the right away will get you hit by a speeding motorbike.

2. Once you commit to walking… Keep going! They’ll maneuver around you (That’s my noggin to the left of the photo).

3. If you can’t beat them, join em!


Time for a double connection! Egg coffee friends… meet barbecue night-market friends! On this evening, we chose to stay low key with the locals and take a tea on some mini stools.


Well thank you Hanoi for your introduction to Vietnam. Travelers, if you’re reading this for personal advice, here’s my quick thought:
If you’re coming for a personal “local” experience… get out of the city. If you’re coming for souvenirs and egg coffee… You’ve come to the right place.

For me, it’s time to get out of town! A spicy and extremely sweet local girl offered me a ride to the station so I wouldn’t have to deal with a cab or cranky tuk tuk driver. Thank you dear!



Not only did she drive me all the way there, she parked her bike, checked me in and then proceeded to walk me all the way to the bed I would be sleeping on during this 13 hour train



Dear mystery motorbike angel, your kind smile and sassy energy was not only appreciated, but adored!


Next stop, Hoi An!


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Hanoi food, drinks and dessert for $1.50 total!

The other day I was wandering the streets in Hanoi looking for a bite to eat. Passing each restaurant that was full of tourists (although I’m sure there was a reason they were packed) I was simply looking for some local eats with rich flavor and no English menu. There was a huge mob of locals sitting just inches off the ground on baby stools devouring whatever this woman was putting into the bowls. Sold! I waited for a stool to open up and within moments, a local stood and signaled for me to take their seat. I smiled gratefully, sat down and just held up one finger with a head nod. Seconds later I found myself drooling (or what felt like it) into the dish and loving every bite! It was gone before the camera even made a conscious thought in my head. Sorry folks.

With that said, lets take a walk through the streets and try some other food and drink that’s common around here!

If you’d like to start your day off with a coffee, you have the usual (boring) options or three different specialities of Hanoi. First up, the ever so popular Weasel Coffee.

Step 1: The weasel eats the coffee berry beans.
Step 2: Naturally eliminates them (yes…poop)
Step 3: The beans are collected, washed, sun dried and roasted.
Step 4: Brewed and served to you!

Turns out, there was debate in regards to animal cruelty with the weasel being caged and force-fed. Since then, they’ve created an enzyme treatment that mimics the “original process” and produces a coffee as distinctive as the genuine, but without the use of the rodent. It’s been said to taste strong but not bitter, for me it was (fill in the blank with an “average” word – ok, good, decent, drinkable, etc.) but definitely not spectacular for the fancy price.

*Please note that I’m not a coffee connoisseur and opinions should be made by oneself.

Next up, a recipe that includes coffee, condensed milk and raw eggs. This little concoction we call, you guessed it… egg coffee! Described as full bodied, smooth and sweet I was excited to try it especially due to the specific cafe that used to be a hidden treasure. From the street you must go through an art gallery, down an alley, up several stairs, continue with a spiral set of stairs, all just to have a seat to enjoy your coffee. I will say, the view of the lake was nice and also made for a new handstand pic!





Back to the coffee. Luckily I was with my new kiwi friends because I was faced with an unexpected dilemma. As I opened the menu to point to the egg coffee, my eyes caught the word “yogurt” followed by “cocoa” and “coffee. What? A cold iced coffee with chocolate and plain yogurt… Yeh, I know.
They each ordered an egg coffee (one cold and one hot) and I got the yog-o-coffee (I made that term up, please don’t go and ask for it, they’ll have no clue what you’re talking about).

Group opinion says:
The cold egg coffee just tasted like thick creamy iced coffee.
The hot egg coffee is better than the iced one. In his words, “like a hot coffee that had a scoop of vanilla ice cream melted into it”.
The yog-o-coffee tastes exactly like you would imagine. Cold sweetened coffee poured over plain yogurt with powdered cocoa mixed in. I think my expectations were set too high to say this was amazing, however I’d probably get it again if I ever went back, just to double check my opinion.



Moving on to edible drinks. This is a warm soy tofu type of substance with palm syrup poured over the top. The flavor isn’t bad, but definitely not good enough to consume all of that sugar!


This tempting doozie was calling my name when I assumed it was fresh fruit and yogurt. Nope, fresh fruit with coconut milk and condensed sweetened milk topped off with ice. Sugary fruit thats soaked in sugar, topped off with a fat filled creamed sugar syrup. Sounds like Buddy the elf would love it (thank you Will Farrell).


I thought this was going to be a savory rice(ish) soup. Wrong again! It’s another sugar filled, warm gooey surprise! Considering I had no idea what it was or which “color” to pick, I just shrugged my shoulders and pointed at her then the mixture to suggest that I’d like to try her favorite.


I knew she understood me when the smile hit her face as she said “you go sit”. So there I sat waiting (on the tiny chair next to the tiny stool that this entire country uses for social dining). I dig it.


For lunch options, I kept my eyes down for anything that may look appetizing along the road side.




After struggling all day trying to find a dish that didn’t have tofu, pork, chicken or fried fish, I finally broke down and stepped inside of a restaurant. The hostel I’m staying at suggested Minh Thuy’s Family Restaurant and they were spot on! The momma cook is one of the female master chefs of Vietnam and has every right to boast of her ability. With her daughter eagerly serving tables while she prepares in the kitchen, this place felt like you were eating at a friends house. I ordered the fresh spring rolls planning to have half for lunch and the rest for dinner. Yeah right, I devoured the entire plate!



In addition to all of the above, you can find corners selling “fresh beer”, (which just means on tap) for $5000 dong. That’s about 0.25 cents in the US. So for a meal, a few beers and dessert if you choose, you can easily eat on the streets of Hanoi for $1.50.

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Wait, it’s not Halloween yet… Is it?

After a day of exploring the Shrine we decided to keep the energy going and visit the popular Takeshita Street that leads to the crossing of Harajuku Street. For all of my California friends, think of it as the “Haight and Ashbury” of Tokyo if you will. This energetic strip has it all! Unique gift shops, local eats, costume boutiques, candy buffets and lets not leave out the 90’s themed collectors store!

Ill start off fresh with a picture that I snagged for all of my “car loving” buddies. This beauty caught my eye simply because you don’t see things like this very often while “backpacking” around.


It’s not Halloween, however year round you’ll find girls dressed in eccentric costumes just out doing their thing and always willing for a photo.


There’s definitely no question if we’re here as we approach the main entrance to Takeshita Street. Time to kick it up a notch!



Let us take a photo tour, walk with me!







You know, my backpack does have quite a bit of wear and tear. Maybe it’s time for a new one?


Sweet tooth anyone? Fruit on a stick or crepes and ice-cream!



Fruit not good enough to subside your sugar craving? How about a candy shop! A few things to be looked for in this set of pictures:
#1 The adorable host outside that is passing out free candy.
#2 The size of Jessica’s marshmallow and the gummy worm (I mean snake!) that Brandon found.
#3 The girl dressed in all black needs to be added to the list of crazy attire you’ll see around here.


I skipped out on the candy store so I could snag a Japanese single serving dish. This little bowl had root veggies, soybeans, green squiggly things and dark brown circular objects. All glazed with what tasted like a ginger teriyaki sauce and it even came with chop sticks! Is it just me, or am I starting to take on a Japanese appearance?


With the sun down and a walk behind us we slowly made our way back towards the station.





Street food! Octopus and squid balls that consist of fish, egg, spices and flour pressed into a circle before being deep fried and served.


Although I love a tasty Kabob once in awhile, I had plenty of those in Europe…


Wait! I can read a part of that menu and I see, “healthy… green…” and “…exotic”!





Salad coming up!


Too bad we already ate, this place looked inviting with several tempting combinations. I would have went with the fig, kiwi and yogurt mixture.


As we exit the main strip, the modern city buildings hypnotize you with their crazy structures and mind teasing appearances. The first one is actually formed with a series of angled mirrors!



A deep breath (of city air) is necessary to take it all in. It’s reminds me of Time Square in New York City, except nobody is yelling and there’s not a slice of pizza around every corner.



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City to night life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The captain comes on and announces our arrival, first in Malay then in English. This is when my heart picks up pace and I feel those familiar butterflies come alive in my stomach. I can’t believe I’m landing in Malaysia right now! Why here? Ill skip the first dozen reasons that include but are not limited to the culture, jungles, beaches, food, and so on…. and remind you of my new friend Kuldip. I met this fellow backpacker while we were volunteering together in New Zealand. We shared a log cabin along with daily chores that ranged from cleaning and gardening to canning jars of marmalade. Here are some recap photos from February in Akaroa, New Zealand.

Our shared cabin, working away and goofing off!





You can imagine the length of conversation we had during our days of work and hours of tea time. Often we’d share cultural fun facts about our home towns following up with an open invite if either of us ever want to visit. Most of you know me well enough by now that with an offer like that… I’m there! Well actually, I’m here!

The first 48 hours consisted of errand running due to the fact that she’s leaving in two weeks to live in Australia for a year. No worries to me though, I’ve enjoyed riding along to see what the city life in Malaysia looks like.

The following are pictures from the passenger seat (in motion and with the windows up, so I apologize for the lack of extreme clarity).










Yes Malaysia, you kept the streak going… Irish Pub!



A peak of green in the city as we pass by a local park.




For the first few meals, we checked out some street food. I’m so thankful to be here with a local who can look first and say, “No, too expensive” or “Not fresh enough” or “This is the best vendor in the city!”.







I happen to have come at the right time as this night was a double celebration out on the town. Her friends birthday and another couple was sharing their 5th wedding anniversary with everyone!

The club we went to actually offered free makeup and complimentary professional photos. Pretty neat way to start off the festivities!





Quick shout out to the DJ duo that kept the crowd alive! It was absolutely refreshing to dance to their mix. Well done! Thank you Werner’s on Changkat!


Random snap pictures from the balcony and a quick set of new friends!









Here are some of our posed professional photos followed by all the action shots!











I should admit that when I dreamt of Malaysia, sky scrapers and smog didn’t jump into my vision. Now realizing that she lives in the capital city, I’m understanding the traffic jams and the amount of McDonalds I see. Although I enjoyed the experience here in Kuala Lumpur, I’m definitely ready to get out of the city lights and see what else this beauitful place has to offer.

Tomorrow we leave for Ipoh to visit her family… That means green trees, waterfalls, home cooked meals, traditional street markets and more trees!

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