Our last full day in Vietnam was spent at the Hidden Hanoi cooking center. We took a "street food" cooking class in a small group; just us and another couple from Singapore. When we arrived, we were greeted with fragrant Jasmine tea and a short introductory lecture about Japanese cuisine.
Tet is the celebration of Vietnamese New Year, the biggest holiday of the year in all of Vietnam. The date is based off of a variation of the Chinese lunisolar calendar and usually occurs sometime in January or February, lasting a few days in urban areas and up to two weeks in rural towns. Our visit to Vietnam fell right in the middle of the holiday, which meant that while many attractions were closed, we got to share in the celebrations first hand. This post is all about the Vietnamese customs that we observed during our time in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Just outside of Ho Chi Minh City lies the Cu Chi Tunnels. During the Vietnam War, the Cu Chi Tunnels were part of an enormous tunnel network connecting much of the country. Viet Cong soldier would use the tunnels to hide from American troops, sometimes for days or weeks at a time. These same tunnels were used to great effect in the Tet Offensive.
Street food tours in Vietnam are listed among the top highlights for visitors to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. I was sorely tempted to book one, as all the major companies got rave reviews and shuttled their guests around on motorbikes. At $50-70 a pop though, we made the prudent, though slightly disappointing decision to try to explore the food scene on our own with the Internet as our guide. Could some travel blog research, a good map, and a lot of patience sufficiently reward our labors?
Nepal was struck by a massive earthquake last week, the second in less than a month. While we were in Nepal months ago, our first post about our adventures published the same day as the first earthquake. We have many more tales to share about our time in Nepal - about the people we met, the stories they told us, and the culture and landscapes we witnessed. It seemed inappropriate, however, to post more blogs about our adventures in the darkest period immediately after the earthquake. We will return to those stories, but first I want to share a few thoughts about travel and forming emotional connections to other people and places.
Kelsi and I set out from Boston six months ago and this seems like an opportune time to reflect on the trip thus far. Although on the blog we’re still posting stories from India, I write this from a café/bar on an island in Vietnam. Vietnam is our last stop in Asia and we soon be flying back over the Pacific. We have lot more stories to share from India and the rest of Asia, so expect more of those to come after this post, but for now I take a moment to look back.