Asia, Vietnam

Asia Day 8: HCMC

Photo of the day: Sinh To Round 2 @ Five Boy Number One. Photo credit: Aaron.

We decided it’s time for more smoothies, so we took a nice stroll to the Five Boy Number One stall again. On our way there we encountered a weekend market full of merchandise, food and music. Once at the smoothie stall, I was quite conflicted whether to try a new flavour or sticking to my favourite avocado and coconut flavour from last time. I decided to get that again and let Aaron try something new. He choose the red dragonfruit with mango. He seemed to really enjoy it but it was a little on the sour side for me. 

Next, we went to a hipster cafe called L’USINE. We did some trip planning while I enjoyed some iced lime soda. It was quite refreshing I would have to say. It came with syrup which was perfect since I could choose not to add too much of it. I need a sugar hiatus from all the over-sweetened drinks here.  

For lunch Aaron wanted to try something different. He brought us to a restaurant called Banh Trang Trang Bang Hoang Ty. It was apparently famous for its rice rolls originating from the Trang Bang district in the southern part of Vietnam. We figured we should be eating more southern Vietnamese foods now as our time here is coming to an end. We just randomly pointed to a line on the page with platters to make rice rolls and the server guided us to order something else. What arrived looked like what everyone else ordered so our server did a good job in helping us make the right choice. Similar to the Bo La Lot from the other day, presented in front of us was a large plate of veggies, some meat, pickled veggies, some wrapping paper as well as dipping sauce. The paper was different though. It looked and felt like the paper we would use to make fried spring rolls. I questioned whether it was ok to eat raw but looking around everyone was eating it, so I questioned no more. I assembled everything like I did with the Bo La Lot and dipped it in the same delicious sauce. The star of this dish is the meat, which I believe was pork slices. Overall less tasty than the Bo La Lot. I also did not enjoy the taste of the wrapping paper as much. It was a costly meal ~$13 and I did not feel that it was worth paying the higher price. 

 Banh Trang @ Trang Bang Banh Trang Hoang Ty
Banh Trang @ Trang Bang Banh Trang Hoang Ty

It was conveniently located close to the War Remnants Museum, which we have been meaning to visit. Now those who know me should know that I am not a fan of museums. I was, however, very excited to come to this museum because I wanted to learn more about the war which so significantly impacted my parents lives. The entrance fee was more than reasonable at < $1 CND. The first area we decided to explore was the “tiger cages”, where it showed the cells used to hold the prisoners of war at Phu Quoc Island. As soon as you walk in, you’re first faced with a guillotine, then you see photos of important figures decapitated. Next, you see the actual barbed wired cages used to hold the POWS as well as other torture devices. They also had 2 dark cells with life-sized mannequins inside it. The tops of these cellars were open for visitors to see down and there were real bats on the walls. This section of the museum is definitely not for the faint of heart and I was one of them. By this point, I figured this museum is probably too much for me to handle. Looking around, I see most people looking somber, some looking in disbelief and some even in tears just reading the descriptions and seeing the photographs of what happened. The rest of the museum consists of rooms after rooms of photographs and descriptions of how cruel this war was including the different weapons and torturing devices used, the effects of “Agent Orange” – a toxin used during the war which cause generations after generations of birth defects and the perseverance of the Vietnamese people during this terrible time. They definitely used the shock factor with all the gruesome and uncensored photographs. Interestingly, one of the most famous photographs from the war depicted a 9 year old girl from Trang Bang running nude, who has taken off her clothes after being severely burned. Flash black to lunch and how the dish we ate was also from Trang Bang. Unfortunately, I did not get to learn too much about the war from my visit. It provided me with little snippets of the war but I still had so many unanswered questions

After the museum visit, Aaron met up with a friend to do some work, while I headed back to the airbnb to get some rest. I originally wanted to pay a visit to the Xa Loi Pagoda but I am still trying to recover from this virus. I ended up reading up some more about the war before dozing off. 

Still not feeling too well, we decided to grab some comfort food before calling it a night. We Ubered to a good Bo Kho (beef stew) place. Their menu was simple AM: Pho, PM: Bo Kho; oh yeah, and ginseng drink and seaweed if you so please. We both ordered the Bo Kho with noodles. They weren’t too busy as there was only one other party there before us. Once we got our noodles, we realized that we had the last two bowls of the day! How lucky of us! The broth was super flavourful and worked so well with the egg noodles. You can also choose to eat it with Banh Mi (bread) but we chose not to. There were beef brisket and tendon pieces to accompany the noodles, as well as a more reasonable side of veggies. Overall tasty but too much coriander/herbs added for my taste. Another thing I wish they had was carrots! Perhaps they have ran out since it is the end of the day? 

Bo Kho @ Bo Kho Ut Nhung
Bo Kho @ Bo Kho Ut Nhung

With our cravings satisfied, we headed home to get some rest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.