Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cambodia and Vietnam Pt1: Food

My husband and I took our honeymoon in Cambodia and Vietnam. We wanted some place warm, inexpensive, and near the water. These countries have all of those requirements even though we knew little about the countries before we went. This is what we learned during our three week trip.  
Coconuts are everywhere in Vietnam.

- Finding Local Eateries - 
Our first morning in Cambodia we decided to find where the locals eat, you know, for the full on food experience. We wandered down some busy streets which lead us to some side streets and eventually we came across a place where many locals were sitting out on the sidewalk under tarps and umbrellas and there was a little stand of some kind of food. No one spoke English, so we figured we found exactly what we were looking for.

We pointed to something on the cart that looked like rice and
eggs. The guy motioned for us to take a seat and brought us our food. Meanwhile his wife was collecting money from customers and cleaning off tables and his two-year-old son was wandering around the area naked from the waste down as if this was a normal day in front of us house. The food was delicious, flavorful rice and eggs, maybe chicken too, with a slight hint of curry. I was happy to find out that most food here seemed to be not on the spicy side. I guess you go to Thailand for that. When it came time to we pay it came to less than $2 including a drink.
Wandering the streets looking for a local place to eat

Found a place where no one speaks English, but the food was delicious
We didn't have the same luck with all local eateries. In Vietnam we were riding a motor bike to the beach and looking for a lunch spot. Most places we saw that looked like eating establishments seemed to be feeding their whole family so no one came to serve us (we actually started to wonder if it was a private home we just sat down in). Other places had someone sleeping in a hammock and it looked like it would take an hour to get food served. We finally settled on a place that looked fairly well established, at least for the not so touristy area we were in. They had a cart of pre-made food that we pointed to what we wanted. The lady said it was chicken, but I have my doubts. It seemed like it might have been the neck of a goat or possibly alligator or even dog. It didn't matter, it was flavored with curry and served with rice, we just had to pick around the vertebra shaped bones to get to the meat. They also brought out something that looked like dirty water, we were skeptical, but soon realized it was green tea and that the Vietnamese serve it with every meal. Later that night neither of us felt well. I don't know if it was the mystery meat or the dishes that were washed without soap and in cold tap water from the hose but whatever the case, it made us both sick. 

-Shopping at the Local Markets-
Vietnam and Cambodia have daily food markets where you can buy fresh produce, meat, and fish
One of my favorite things to do was go to the market to buy food. They had everything there starting at 6am. I could buy any kind of fruit or vegetable, meat or eggs. Bananas were everywhere, tangerines, coconuts, dragon fruit, and lots of other things I've never seen before. I did venture out of my comfort zone a few times. I bought something that looks like an apple, but softer, like a banana. We asked a girl at the hostel how to eat it. She showed us how to squash it between your fingers to soften it and then squeeze it til it bursts open a hole, then you suck the juice out through the hole. The taste seemed similar to a plumb although it took a bit to get used to the slimy texture. The hardest thing to find was bread. In one city, Dalat, we had to go to a bakery, as nowhere else sold bread of any kind. In the seaside town of Mui Ne I found one lady at the market that sold freshly made bread every day. You had to get there fairly early though because she'd sell out. We bought eggs a few times, but steered clear of the meat and fish. I couldn't bring myself to buy a chicken that had been sitting out in 90degree heat for who knows how long with flies landing all over it. I imagine the pig leg and the chicken breast what were being cut up had been butchered the same morning and is probably more fresh than what we have in America, but they don't have much in the way of refrigeration or safe food handling practices, so we decided to stick to less risky food sources. Finding yogurt was a challenge but not impossible. You had to find a little food store, they don't really have grocery stores, but they do have little shops that sell your basic convenience foods like ramen noodles, nuts, and chips. If you looked around long enough you could find one of these shops that had little yogurt cups in a refrigerator (most stores don't have refrigerators). I had no idea what the label said in Vietnamese, so I picked one that looked like it could possibly be a vanilla flower. The lady told me it was "plain" flavor, but I think it was lost in translation, because it sure tasted like vanilla.
My food of choice from the daily market. The yogurt is not at the market and took more of a search to find

We opted to not buy the meat and fish from the ladies at the market

-Slow Service-
The service in SE Asia is very slow when it comes to food and coffee. I don't think they are being lazy, I think they are just making everything from scratch. Shawn ordered coffee every day while we were there. Instead of your typical American coffee shop where they have it ready to pour into your cup the minute you swipe your credit card, they instead take your order, go back in the kitchen, and you don't see them for the next 20 minutes.
Waiting for our food
Still waiting for our food
We wondered the first few times if they even understood our order. We finally understood why one day when they brought the drip cup out to us and you watch it drip one drop at a time for 20 minutes until your cup is full. The food all comes out in it's own time. We would each order our meals at the same time and then wait and wait and wait and wonder if they forgot about us. Then one meal would be brought out to us, the other still being prepared in the back. No place we went to was ever busy. I think they just had one cook in the back who would prepare one meal at a time and the server would want to bring it to us while it was still fresh.

-Inexpensive Meals-
Most meals in Cambodia and Vietnam are less than $5. Most days Shawn and I spent $10 combined for food. There are some exceptions for cheap food. Packaged juice cost about the same as in America. But fresh squeezed juice does not hold the high premium as we have in the States. A quart of OJ at the store would cost close to $2, while a fresh squeezed juice on the street would cut $0.75. They advertise everywhere for "Fruit Shakes". These are so fresh and so refreshing on a hot tropical day I had one whenever I got the chance.
This meal was in the city, so was more pricey than most places, but still cost us less than $5 US. Green tea is served with every meal.

We spent Thanksgiving eating pho, the traditional Vietnamese rice noodle soup

There are some things I got tired of, and some things I will miss. The food seemed to fill me up at the end of each meal, but two hours later I felt hungry again. If we stopped every two hours to eat, and at the pace that the bring us our food, I don't think we would have had time to do anything else but look for the next restaurant.

Things I'll Miss:
  • Fresh "Fruit Shakes" on every corner
  • Cucumbers served with every meal (including breakfast)
  • Fresh cut pineapple ready to eat
  • $2 meals

Things I Won't Miss:
  • Everything tasting like coconut
  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Not knowing if my water contains raw sewage  
    Strawberry and Pineapple juice

    Fruit shake

    One place we stayed had an outdoor kitchen we used to cook breakfast

    Fresh fruit at every meal

    Happy honeymooners


  1. OMG! Vietnam is in my prosperity tree for 2017!! Thank you for sharing!!!!!!!!! This my definition of a good trip : great people, great pics and great stories to be shared ! XOXO, ADRY

  2. If you choose Vietnam visa on arrival then you have to carry all the documents to Vietnam international airport. In these days this process is highly preferable for those who use to travel in Vietnam make Easy for everyone.

  3. You completed certain reliable points there. I did a search on the subject and found nearly all persons will agree with your blog. Camilla

  4. In what has ended up being a differentiating inversion of fortune, the Philippines, which was at one time Asia's second-most extravagant nation, as of late moved toward the Vietnamese government to buy rice keeping in mind the end goal to bolster its keeping millions from individuals. caibe floating market

  5. Yes both are good and cheap, tasty and various

  6. titanium tube - Buddha
    This 부산광역 출장안마 is how you 여주 출장안마 can get yourself a tube? You may 영천 출장샵 see it as a cable titanium tubing from a cable box. The idea is that you will have a 안양 출장샵 tiny

  7. Las Vegas' Wynn Casino - JTM Hub
    Casino. Wynn is a $4 billion resort with four hotel 출장안마 towers jancasino with 5,750 rooms and suites. Each of the hotel towers 토토 includes septcasino a 20,000 square foot casino and a

  8. Best No Deposit Bonus Codes in India -
    5 steps1.Visit the official website of No Deposit India.
    Benefits bsjeon of using a no deposit bonus.
    Benefits of using a goyangfc no deposit ford fusion titanium bonus.
    Benefits of using a no deposit bonus.
    Online Sincere 출장마사지 Accessory domain herzamanindir