All The News That Fits

Adventures In Fine Dining

Posted by Nancy on April 4, 2008

We are in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), formerly known as Saigon.  The weather is hot and humid, and if this is what early April is like I would hate to see August.  The pilot announced it was 34 degrees celsius, so those who are smarter than I am can convert that to fahrenheit.

We flew down this afternoon and got in about 3:30.  We have taken a hotel room, but have to be at the airport by 3:15 a.m. to straighten out a slight problem with tickets for our 7:30 a.m flight, so there won’t be much sleeping.  At least we can stretch out and relax.

Ms. Lam and Ms. Thuy said many people in HCMC speak English, not like in Hanoi.  Well, a lot of people in Hanoi spoke English and so far we have not met many here who can.  The ladies at the hotel desk, and no one else.

We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, and no one there spoke English beyond “chicken” and “Coke.”  They understood a few words, but darn few.  It was the most humorous meal we have had and was a good ending to our time in Vietnam.  See, last night we went to a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, and somehow it seemed wrong to eat American cuisine (does KFC qualify as “cuisine”?) on our last night in Hanoi. 

We made up for it today.

The menu was in Vietnamese and French, no English.  I tried to explain that I do not like spicy foods and didn’t want anything “hot,” so they turned the menu to “salads.”  And I do mean “they,” as it had become a group project with three or four people trying to give us good service and no one speaking or understanding English. 

I said no, no salad.  Finally, I told them to bring me anything with chicken, since they knew that word.  I got hot wings.  Well, technically it wasn’t hot wings, since only two of the pieces were wings and they were the tip of the wing – you know, the part you cut off and throw away because there’s no meat on it. 

I took vertebrate anatomy in college and dissected animals, and I couldn’t identify what parts of a chicken I was eating beyond that.

Matt said he was going to play it safe and ordered fried rice with beef.  After my food was delivered, but while his was still being cooked, he looked up and said, “What?”  Turns out he knows just enough French that, as he overheard them discussing his order, he realized they were preparing fried rice with dog for him.  He told them no, he didn’t want dog.  With three wait staff people there he kept trying to get them to understand “beef,” at one point even mooing at them.  At that point everyone laughed.  Finally he gave up and just said “fried rice with chicken.”

They brought him plain fried rice.

We ate our food, had a good time, and enjoyed life.  What else can you do?  And we even left them a good tip, even though tipping is not done in Vietnam.  Heck, they carried the baby around for us and entertained him while we ate, and that was worth a tip.

A few notes about Ho Chi Minh City.  It seems to be more modern than Hanoi, with many skyscrapers, broad boulevards, etc.  At least the part we saw, which was just from the airport to a hotel downtown, plus what we saw from the air.

The broad boulevards are filled with the same kind of traffic as in Hanoi, only worse.  Is that possible?  I just can’t get beyond the traffic in this country.  I have been told there are only three rules to driving here.

  1. Never stop.
  2. If you don’t have a horn, don’t leave home
  3. Try not to hit anyone.

I will be glad to get back home.  We should get in about 9:30 Saturday night, but our bodies will think it is 8:30 Sunday morning.  It may take a day or two to recover.


2 Responses to “Adventures In Fine Dining”

  1. Maureen said

    I stumbled across your blog when you first began your adventure and I’ve enjoyed reading your descriptions of life in VN. Have a safe trip back, and congratulations to all of you.

  2. mary said

    We have thoroughly enjoyed following your blog. You have vividly described the life of the Vietnamese and helped us better understand what it will be like when we travel. Wishing you safe travel home.

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