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Saturday Night Out with Mr. Lee

VIETNAM | Saturday, 14 July 2007 | Views [1090]

After three days on the beach with Mr. Lee, Darrin’s kite boarding instructor, we developed a friendship and he offered to take us out to some special local places that he reserves for adventurous western friends.  First stop was for "Bia" Vietnamese for beer.  The three of us whisk off on Mr. Lee's motor bike to indulge in the famous local Bia Hoi.  The beer is stored in big metal vat with a  spigot at the bottom.  For just 4,000 dong (25 cents) we would get a whole liter of fresh brew.  That compares generously to the usual 10,000 dong for just a bottle in the bars.  Mr. Lee gets us a 2 liter plastic jug, and we walk next door for a truly local dining experience.  The restaurant is a big fenced in parking lot with lots of tiny tables set 2 feet off the ground, surrounded by small plastic stools.  This place specializes in "goat" hot pots.  Hot pots are a Vietnamese specialty.  They keep a big metal pot boiling on a burner at our table while we scoop in noodles, veggies, tofu, and special to this place, chunks of goat.  And for just under $3 USD you can feed a whole family, and as we look around us, there are many families dining here.  We were the only foreigners in the restaurant, and the local owners and clients stared curiously, smiling and exchanging the occasional "sin chow" (hello in Vietnamese).  A street cart vendor pulls up to the side of the restaurant, his voice belting out Vietnamese songs through the massive speaker set up he had mounted on his bike.  His daughter works home-made candy sales among the restaurant patrons, as he sings.  Mr. Lee buys us some local sweets to try out.  Darrin steps out next door to refill our 2 liter jug of Bia Hoi and the evening continues as other tables bellow smoke from their self barbecues.  We finally finish up and pay for our dinner.  

We understood from Mr. Lee that there are other places that are a bit more pricey that specialize in dog... yes, those cute little pets that we rarely see cruising the streets here.  It's odd that we do not to see stray dogs all over the streets in Vietnam, as they are very prevalent in South East Asia, and more frequently, dangerous if bit from the risk of rabies infection.  We've been told by many local men, that dog is an aphrodisiac, and also makes men strong and purifies the skin.  Fortuntately we didn't have another day to test out the dog hot pot restaurant.

We leave the restaurant and are welcomed into a local coffee house.  We would never have known that it was a public place to go for drinks.  There are no lights on, just a ton of people hanging out at tables, chatting and drinking coffee.  Mr. Lee leads us to a table and we order up the delicious "drip" Vietnamese coffee.  Coffee is served here in small one-cup stainless steel "drippers" that sit on top of a clear glass.  If you order a "white" coffee, your glass comes with a 1/2 inch of sweetened condensed milk on the bottom, which is very necessary to dilute the richness of the coffee.  The coffee in Vietnam is amazingly tasty.  It's richer than any espresso we've ever had, and takes at least 10 minutes to slow drip into the glass when brought to the table.  Around the country we indulge in the famous Trung Nguyen at local cafes or at the "true" Trung Nguyen coffee shops that are a more basic and rustic version of Starbucks, selling hardcore drip blends and no food or foofy drinks.
All three of us now jittered up on coffee, drive back to the guest house, gripped tightly onto Mr. Lee's bike.  We thank him for sharing his local hot spots with us, and let him know that we'll be ready bright and early in the morning if the wind comes up, for Darrin's last lesson.

Tags: Party time


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