Karaoke & Motorbike Adventures in Vietnam and Other Stories

In the photographs below are images of my adventurous shipmates who sailed with me from Hong Kong to Singapore. We spent nine wonderful days aboard the Silverseas Silver Shadow. I could fill pages of at least a dozen newsletters with our experiences, but I will just give you a glimpse of our trip.
Early on in the journey and getting to know each other, dinner conversation was generally about food.  Where do you like to eat, what was your favorite meal, what was the weirdest thing you ever ate …We all were in agreement, especially by the end of the trip, that The BEST MEALS are the ones you eat with friends you enjoy!  That being said, we did our best to dine on traditional Vietnamese dishes whenever possible during the day and at night we dined on the Relais & Chateaux food at sea. I had my first taste of mangosteens, dragonfruit, (refused the Durian – though enjoyed by some of my shipmates), Longan fruit and more exotic looking specimens. On the ship, I had my fill of ripe papaya, melon and berries everyday.
On our first drive to Hanoi, (what should have taken 3 1/2 hours took closer to 5), we gazed out of the van windows and had our first glance of Vietnam.During the the five hours of changing scenery, we watched the population go by us on motorbikes, we saw rice fields and water buffalo, palm trees, food stands – carts every few feet and many, many people.Gail started pointing out the Karaoke Clubs, which there were many, seem-ingly deserted but with big welcoming signs beckoning for singers to come in. Karaoke in imagin-ation stayed with us for the week, but not once were we able to partake – and that was not without trying.
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Prior to leaving for Asia, I discovered HanoiKids Club, a student-run organization that recruits university students to offer voluntary city tours of Hanoi while practicing their English. I made arrangements for two students to meet us for a “Food, Photo and Fun Tour”.

 

Excited to guide an American group, our lovely docents Lien and Huong took command and first off taught us how to cross the street in Hanoi – BE FEARLESS!  When asked where to? what would you like to see? – the only obvious choice was FOOD!  Take us to your favorite places. And they did, starting with their GO TO  spot for noodles. Later in the day, they luckily saved us from taking some risky tastes at some questionable street food stands. The tour continued to the big food market, their college hangout for chè (a traditional Vietnamese dessert soup or pudding) and a very long walk around the lake. This day was one of the highlights of the week and the only downside was that we did not have enough time to spend with them!

Our next adventure was a road trip to Hoi An, a few hours west of our port in Chan May/Hue. The old section of Hoi An still maintains its character of a quaint, ancient historical town preserved from centuries ago. This was the destination for our next food adventure. Morning Glory Cooking School  came highly recommended and was well worth the ride to get there.  We started out with a visit to the market, where we were introduced to a wide assortment of exotic fruits, vegetables and herbs. Back at the school, our class was taught by Lulu, one Ms Vy’s assistants, who did an excellent job. Here we learned how to make rice paper rolls with pork, prawns and noodles as well as a lovely salad with mango and marinated BBQ chicken. After class we indulged in our efforts as well as tasting some other traditional Hoi An preparations.
Not sure about the rest of the gang, but our motorbike tour of Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon will never be forgotten!  XO Tours is an innovative company that offers various themed motorbike tours of the city. I selected the “Foodie Tour” at night hoping that we would be able to see and taste the most unique street food with a reliable expert. The all-women drivers arrived dressed in their traditional Ao Dai  and they whisked us through the heavily populated streets stopping at one amazing street vendor after another.All in all, it was a great trip – certainly a change in my normal routine. Are you tempted to come on a trip with me?  If so – where would you consider going?? Shoot me an email and let me know!A special thanks to Michael and his team at Millennium Travel!  I am grateful to have such a wonderful travel partner.