Two years in a row I had the privilege to join my juniors on their Sunbear scramble through Vietnam. I put together a short video to promote it the first year. Its taken off and its in its 3rd run, due to much success from its founder and contributing teachers. It did work in operation with XO travels, but I believe that partnership has been discontinued. Regardless, its an epic trail through Danang, Hue and Hoi an. One of the highlights is this resort outside Hue with hot springs and zipline. While updating my blog, I thought I would be funny to put the two videos I took a year apart, which are nearly identical, into this post.
A regular stay at Thanh Tan Hot springs will cost you over 100 USD per night, but you can get it far cheaper on Agoda or booking.com They have an awesome breakfast buffet, cool cottages and suites for you picking, group trees houses if thats whats your into, some mediocre waterslides, amateur highwire crossings and natural hot springs.
As mentioned in a prior post, every year our school goes on a field studies trip. Essentially this is a field trip, but its not just fun and game. There is a lot of curriculum built into our destinations along with some team and character building. Its really an incredible opportunity for the students to develop. Growing up, I wish I was able to do such challenging and inspiring field trips with my school. We used to go to the Bronx zoo. Our teachers would let us run free for 6 hours and never collect the handout they gave us that morning. Education has come a long way since I was a child,
Our 9th grade trip consisted of 70 students, 7 teachers, several field trip advisors, lots of luggage, lost passports, sick bellies, all nighters, blisters, mosquitos bites, allergic reactions and it was AWESOME. These 9th graders were so much more capable than the 11th grade trip from prior years. Its like that age where they are still children, and finding out who they are. Its the perfect time to allow them to blossom into the young sunflowers or trees they'll become.
Our curriculum was developed by all the teachers involved and it centered around "Power." The power of the king, the people, the mechanics to build, the sun for energy etc.. It was really thought out and the kids answered questions every night a long with reflecting on what they did was and could have done better. I must add the reflecting time was so valuable. Its something I never really did as a child and am only learning now how to do.
We started in Ho Chi MInh City and by bus reached Phnom Penh in about 8 hours. This city has a historical site called the Killing Fields which is an essential stop over if you want to learn about the country's history. But if not, continue on by bus to Siem reap at another 6-8 hours. Once in Siem reap we explored Angkor Watt temples. We only went to a few sites, but it can be done in a day if your short on time and rent a bicycle. Tuk tuks can be hired for about 20 USD a day if cycling around the jungle isn't for you. We also worked with a nonprofit, HUSK. which is one of the most well ran non-profits I've ever had a chance to work with, Our kids learned to build homes, connect with local children and give back to communities in need. Husk really has a great program and thats what makes me look back and enjoy this trip so much.
One of my favorite getaways from Ho Chi MInh City is a few hours North into the Central Highlands of Lam Dong to a small city called Da Lat. The bus ride willl take you from 5- 8 hours depending on departure time. There is not a single traffic light in the whole town, but motorbikes somehow magically weave flawlessly between each other and the narrow passages. I love Da lat because of its cool air, mountainous terrain, rivers and canyons. I've yet to do any rafteing here, but I may consider that for the future.
I've been here a handful of times and almost all the time I've went on canyoning tours with Phat tires adventures. You can find a cheaper company to save you a few bucks, which I initially did. After hearing of a few Frenchman who hit their head on the wrong natural waterslide and died, it didn't take much convincing for me to stay with Phat tires. Other tours I did with them consisted of a bicycle ride from Da lat to Nha trang and Da Lat to Mui Ne, Though the Nha Trang trip consists of the better views, the Mui Ne tour feels more local and its closer bus ride back to HCMC.
Stay at one of the historic, maybe haunted, French colonial mansions (40 USD per night), or the Dream Hotel (25 USD per night) with their legendary homemade breakfast. Other things to do: a scooter ride out of the city to the organic farms, a weasel coffee plantation, elephant falls, Truc Lam Temple, a crowded night market for watching people and eating anything. Most importantly have a class of freshly brewed hot coffee at any hour of the day at Cafe 171 ( I think that's the name) at 106 Phan Dinh Phung street. Its been serving coffee by the same family for years. Upon my last visit I discovered the old man past away, but his son, wife and grandchildren are still operating it.
Not too long ago my class started something called a passion project. This slightly mimicked Google's Genius hour. My instructions started off kind of sloppy and unorganized. I felt as thought I confused my student. However, we went back to our passion project every Friday. Students would spend about 30 minutes on this project every Friday in class. The students were also instructed to spend more time on their own outside of class.
Two key points for any teacher who wants implement a passion project concept.
Develop a weekly/ biweekly check-in. - I found that when I checked in with students from week to week, they made much more progress than if I let them hand it in at the very end (I compared two years of passion projects and the second year I was much more diligent with my check-ins). The monitoring and feedback sessions we had together turned out to be really helpful for the kids.
Help them find their passion- The number one complaint of students will be, "I don't know what I am passion about. " Sit with them, talk to them, interview them, help them choose an area to focus. In the past I have assigned students a passion just to get them started, As it turns out, knowing what they don't like helps them find what they do like.
Be flexible, show your own example, show off students working hard and good luck.
Its that time of year again! The leaves have fallen, snow has dusted the ground and Christmas trees fill the neighbors windows. Oh wait, I am not in New York anymore. It's sweltering hot, motorbikes rule the road and Christmas decorations are thrown up at every major sopping center. But few locals actually celebrate it. In Vietnam, Christmas is more of a shoppers holiday and good reason to take selfies. Oddly enough the streets and malls are decorated from floor to ceiling with holiday cheer, but only 7% of Vietnam's population is catholic. Nonetheless, it is still a lot of fun. More and more kids at younger ages are being exposed to Christmas, not as a religious holiday, but as a fun day that is filled with presents and songs. So when I found out our music teacher wanted to play Christmas songs all week with his band I thought it was a perfect opportunity to show up and show some of my students what Christmas is all about... Santa!
In the blazing sun and smoke filled highways I left my house every morning decked out in a Santa suit. Bikes with children on them nearly cut me off just to wave. Not to mention it was hard to steer with my backpack as my belly. Others drove by like they've seen it all before. In fact, nothing really phases me on a motorbike anymore. #stuffonthebackofbikes.
Upon arrival, teachers all smiled and foreign staff took photos with me. It took a short while for some of the kids to come around. Once the photos started they didn't stop. A few kids snagged a video of me dressed as Santa playing basketball. Though it may not be big in their country, a lot of them will go to America or another Western country to study. If anything, the kids got a kick out of their teacher dressed as Santa. And Mr. Scott did an incredible job getting all the middle school kids to play along. Merry Christmas!!
A few weeks back I attended a professional development called learning 2 in Manila. Teachers gathered from international schools around the world to discuss the possibilities of change in the classroom. "Stop. Rethink. Change." was the mantra. It was there I first learned of a passion project or some may call it Genius hour.
I came back to HCMC, Vietnam and immediately invited my students to start a Passion Project once a week. I promised we'd spend 10-15 minutes a week working on something they love! I never really figured out exactly what the project would be, but the kids just loved the idea.
Whenever I ask my kids to do a big activity, I usually do the project too. For example, we each created a Food waste diary during our unit on the world's food supply. So this time around I was going to do the passion project also. It helps me model and establish good rapport with the kids.
I asked myself "what was my passion?" I loved making videos, I loved travelling and I loved being outdoors. I had to look real hard at my surroundings and history. I thought of my time doing construction with my brother, the massive vegetable garden I grew for 3 years at my mother's house and the landscaping I used to do for a private employer. I loved to get outside and get dirty. I thought, why not grow a garden? The benefits of a school garden are endless. Our rooftop was the perfect space that wasn't being used. Plenty of sunshine (maybe too much) and plenty of kids who would be willing to help.
When I asked these kids how many of them have planted a seed only 1/4 of them raised their hand. I was shocked. I guess this generation grew up with tech and some of them missed the planting a seed class in elementary school. At first it was a struggle to get the idea going, but word started to travel. Science got involved and GIN is planning on creating their own compost.
Students were encouraged to use recyclable bottles to start their seedlings. We planted everything from pumpkin and cucumber to Brussels sprouts and Ghost pepper. We still need to plant broccoli and spinach. Extra credit was given to kids who brought in their own potted plants (not vegetables). Once the seedlings started to grow I was receiving endless requests from the students to have class on the roof.
I just recently purchased a small amount of lumber at a ridiculous price compared to wood in the US (it was actually much more expensive here). I would have loved to find some recyclable stuff. The idea is to make an Urban Garden. This is how it begins.
A couple months back my Assistant Deputy Head asked me, "What if we did an amazing race-type field trip where the kids had to do challenges around the country. Would that be crazy?" My answer was, "Lets do it!" From there she headed the logistics and preparation until the very last day of the trip. Well done Heather (check out her blog) It truly was an incredible trip. With the assistance of EXO Adventures we were able to make it happen.
5 teams, 5 teachers, all on buses, completing physical and psychological challenges for 5 days in Central Vietnam. We produced a very basic itinerary: Fly into Hue, Travel by Bus to Lang Co and then to Hoi An, Fly back to Ho Chi Minh City from Da Nang via Vietjetair.
Everyday the kids were asking us, "Whats next?" But we didn't really know because we were involved in the game too. Surely we had an idea of in order to ensure all the safeguarding practices were met, but we didn't let the kids know what little we knew.
Teachers only encouraged the kids to make decisions, we tried to stand back as much as possible This was so difficult at some points. Once the first clue was given, students broke out in a mad dash and raced for the boats across a river to search for a former tiger and elephant fighting arena. It was a really cool first clue. The next task involved sprinting around the Hue Citadel and completing a series of riddles based on the images and stories of the past. We started to notice heated exchanges between students here and quickly gave a sportsmanship speech to settle things down. Points were tallied and at the end of the week and awards were given out (all the kids got the same award with the exception of one group who had a mid-week foot massage)
Travelling everyday was probably the most difficult job, but students quickly learned they weren't staying in one place for long. Another challenge involved high wire ropes, zip-lines and ruining up big hills. Students had to conquer their fears and work together to finish the tasks. The following day was spent on the Beach in Lang co with a series of mind bending and body twisting tasks in the sand. By this time the teams were really into it and so were the teachers!
It' hard to retell these events day by day because there were so many great things that occurred in between. Students encouraged one another, applauded other teams and showed real respect to everyone involved.
The last day in Hoi An was the final challenge. This was what closely resembled the Amazing Race!
Teams were finding clues on old bridges, interviewing foreigners, locating local dishes and eating them, and interviewing natives to Hoi An on their history. It was incredible to say the least. They all finished in high spirits.
Throughout the week EXO Adventures and our team from ISHCMC American Academy encouraged students to put together a karaoke performance. Well the kids did a great job, but it might have been the teachers that stole the show. We were a surprise act at the end and we performed "Up town funk" by Bruno Mars. I have to compliment the girls on this one for preparing and organizing our dance rehearsals. Andrew and I had a good time, but didn't really do a whole lot.
Upon reaching the airport, none of the students wanted to go home. We talked about their experiences and what they appreciated most about the journey . We only had to give out two band-aids and had one missing ID card. we didn't lose any students and no hospital visits. Mission complete. I can't wait until next year!
One of the best parts of being a teacher is that everyday is different. You never get bored of your job, your constantly busy and students always surprise you with their questions and talents. But another perk is the time off. Being in the hub of South East Asia, you can travel anywhere nearby for really cheap. I can fly round trip to Thailand for the same price of a ticket from NY to DC. Not bad hey? This time I chose Taiwan. I've been putting it off forever, because I always said someday I would work there.
After studying Chinese in Beijing for a year, I gained valuable conversational skills. But 2 + years of being away and those skills started to dwindle, much like my Spanish skills. It was so rewarding to be back in a Mandarin speaking country and refresh that ability. Surprising locals and communicating with people who may have never used English in their life is comical to say the least. There is something about living in a country that doesn't speak your native tongue. Its like each daily task is a challenge. It keeps life interesting. If you want an easy and simple life don't come to Asia. But that moment you learn a new word, or realize what something means, its like being a child all over again.
Have a look at whats going on inside my school and classroom. I absolutely love teaching! Everyday is unique and it never gets boring. The Middle School Basketball Team is undefeated and the kids are all improving their video making skills
I found a great article not too long ago about the best cafes to do work and drink coffee. I decided I'd check to see how accurate they were. The first two were the workshop and Acafe. However, I didn't stick to just one article. I also found great places on rusty compass and some other hungry man site.
Let's start with Acafe located at 27 Ngo Duc Ke, District 1. This place is tucked down a side street next to a Vietnamese school. Warning: do not go here around 5 pm. The road wasn't wide enough for this many bikes and the curb wasn't big enough to park . It was a cool place to chill if I worked nearby, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get there again. I did try a really cool method of making coffee called the "syphon." See the photos above. Not bad prices either. Coffee for 2 boiled in a "crystal ball" 125k ($7)
Next was Workers Cafe located on 15 Huynh Khuong Ninh, District 1. It's next to a Phuc long coffee in case you get lost. The doorway, if you can call it that, had some young kids in security uniforms instructing you where to put your bike. Hike up 3 flights of rickety stairs and you'll find the entrance. The staircase and walls could really use some maintenance and a paint job. One of the beauties of Vietnam is that they don't feel a touch up is necessary on old buildings. They just keep them the way they are. You'll see this a lot with the rust stained yellow buildings around the city.
Open up the doors to Workers Cafe and you'll find yourself at a cross between a bar and a science lab. The servers were in large black aprons that slightly resembled lab coats. This place was awesome. There were electrical outlets for all my devices( a rarity). Though pricey at 75-125k ($4-7)a cup of coffee, I got my WiFi worth.
More recently I checked out a trendy She Cafe. This was by far the sexiest cafe I've been too. I'll return with a greater or equally sexy date in the future. Coffee was delicious and ran about 65k ($3). The thing about this place is that it is packed at night because tourists and locals will try to escape the madness of Nguyen Hue walking street. The downside is they don't have any 3 prong outlets, so I lost my entry and had to retype this (I should have been using google docs).
You don't need a guide or a list of cafes to visit in this city. You can just drive around (don't take your eyes off the road) stop at any corner and you'll find a hidden gem. It never really breaks the bank either because even the pricier places are still less than a Starbucks venti Frappuccino back home. Experience of more cafes are soon to come.
One of the most difficult tasks of my day is figuring out what the eat. The most difficult part of my weekend is figuring out where to go. Being in South East Asia, many amazing destinations are only a few hours away. Usually these flights run between $100-$400 round trip. Sometimes you can even catch a flight with Vietjet for less than a $100! So with a major concert coming up at a really beautiful resort, I was torn between staying local or travelling somewhere for a nice 3 day vacation. I chose to stay local and splurge.
My friend booked a room for all three of us at the Grand Ho Tram Casino and Resort just 2 hours outside of the city. We were given a free shuttle service to the casino and arrived about 10 am. Upon check-in we were greeted by friendly smiles and cheerful attitudes. I don’t think the staff cared that we were going to lose all our money there. I think they genuinely were happy to see us. However, it didn’t take long for that smile to turn to confusion. As it turns out, my friend booked a room for all the previous night and due to the large influx of people for the event there were no more rooms available.
The staff was kind enough to provide us with tickets to the event (around $50 a piece). Even though this epic blunder was on my friend Joe’s shoulders, the hotel still got our money. Keeping our smiles on we gravitated towards the pool and threw back some 80,000 VND ($4) Heinekens. To give you an idea of splurging here, thats bit pricey for Vietnam, but normal for a club. We ended up putting all our belongings at a camp ground nearby and planned on sleeping there. That cost us $15 a piece. I couldn’t think of a worse spot to put these black tents. Positioned directly in the sun and on top of a sand dune, I knew right then and there I wasn’t coming back here at night.
The concert turned out awesome. Even though I haven’t heard Above and Beyond mentioned in the music scene for a few years, the venue lights and theme were all well put together. Most dying bands find their way to Asia, but in this case, a lot of these DJs reemerge here. Its definitely become the new ground for touring.
I’ll cut this short and sum things up. We ended up back in the casino and then scattered among the after parties. I decided it would be a better idea to sleep at the cabanas by the pool as did my friends. This was much more comfortable than those tents. For breakfast I was able to enter the massive buffet and gladly ate the portion for a small family. Sushi, prawns, steak and ice-cream. Asians will eat anything for breakfast I spent the morning in the sun by the pool and put myself on the next bus back to HCMC. The price for parking my bike over night at the KumHo building in d1 was an insane 300,000 VND ($15). Luckily that was exactly how much I had left in my pocket.
EI am writing this having already completed this trip once before. The photos are from the most recent excursion into Ben Tre, but the first time was the real thrill.
A friend of mine, Trung, lives close to where these "coconut boats depart. Hes an older gentleman, a xe-om driver (motorcycle taxi), that has great english. Hes lived in Vietnam his whole life and experienced The War first hand. Hes become a good friend of mine over the years by taking family and visitors on a tour of the city while I work.
Trung invited a few friends and I onto the coconut boat for an adventure like no other. This is one of the few places you can go in Vietnam where you will encounter people who haven't seen a white person in the flesh in decades. This is not the "Ben Te" coconut tour you find at Sinh tourist , but a local adventure not for the faint-hearted. We loaded our scooters onto the boat, brought some food and beverages and cruised through he Mekong until the week hours of the morning.
I have to admit, the first time was awful. We went about 5 miles per hour and arrived at our destination at 6 AM with a pounding headaches from the constant putter of the hand size propeller on the boat. The second time around was a bit more "luxurious" with hammocks, over head canopy and a quiet engine. We arrived about 1 am after 4 hours in route. From there, we had a coffee, a local breakfast, probablyHu Tieu, helped put coconuts onto the boat, and get on our way back to the city. Its an adventure to remember.
Truong is a Vietnamese motorcycle driver (xe om) here in Saigon. Hes 50+ years old and has lived in Vietnam his whole life. I once asked him if he would like me to get him a job. He responded, "Why Bill? I am a free man!" I admire this ideology because it really makes you contemplate the purpose of work. Any other person living the way he lives would have jumped at the opportunity. But wisdom comes with age and this guy seems to have figured out the path he wants in life.
When I first met Truong he was lounging backwards on his motorcycle (something very common for drivers here). As I walked by he said, "Hi, Sir do you need a ride?" He spoke English so clearly it caught me off guard. I didn't need a ride anywhere, but I did need some advice and I did need a friend. He and I now meet once a week to talk politics and women. We go searching for motorcycle deals an browse the markets for manufacturing opportunities. He really has allowed me to see another side of Vietnam. In return I have set him up with a side gig as a tour guide. He makes more money when I set him up with friends visiting town than when he works as a "xe om" all week. Hes taken both my brothers on moto tours and dozens of friends. Hes a genuine man and a true friend.
When I told him I wanted to go fishing he jumped at the opportunity. He was all about it. Took me to a fishing shop for bait, tackle and rods. This place had every type of rod you can imagine. Some gear looked as if it was big enough for a whale. No one who can afford to go whale fishing would be at this shop to begin with. This place is for the locals fishing off the bridges and in the streams of Saigon. Anyhow, I paid for all the goods and he insisted he buy the hats. As poor as this man is, he always insists he pay for something. He often says "Let me be a man Bill," This guy's thoughts belong on T-shirts. Seeing how he lives has taught me a lot about the things I deem necessary in life. We just don't need all the merchandise we own. Knowing this man is proof that money does not equal happiness/
The fishing location was a stocked lake. We ran into these jerks being territorial about where we fished. Some guy said in Vietnamese that we are amateurs and we cant be there. Truong shrugged it off and laughed because we were fishing at a stocked lake. That meant they were amateurs too. There definitely was some racism or "cast-ism" there because Troung is a poor man and they were able to see that. Like most of my fishing ventures, I didn't catch anything. It didn't take long for Troung to say, "this is boring Bill." I agreed. The best part about this place were the waitresses in high heels at 11 am and the bus boys moving from table to table on 1990-style roller blades.
Sometimes in Saigon you just can’t believe your eyes. Its why I chose to live here. Its why I extended my contract and its why I may continue to live here longer. You just can’t make this stuff up. Rainy season is usually pretty consistent in South East Asia. It rains at noon and then again at 5. They even have a name for it “mua lon” which means “big rain.”
This was the worst rain I’ve seen in Saigon since my arrival and by far the worst flooding ive seen in my life. It was complete madness. Draining systems backed up, riverbanks were overflowing, motorbikes stuck up to their handlebars and barefoot kids having a blast in it. As I write this I look out my window and you assume one could travel faster down the road if you had a rowboat
It took me an hour to travel about 3 miles. This included crossing road dividers, having 50% of my body splashed by a public bus, driving on sidewalks and ultimately parking in a different garage and walking home. Probably the best part about this is seeing the people gather on the sidewalk and observe the insanity. The ingenuity of the Vietnamese and their motorbikes make for an always exciting sight
This challenge is about doing something different everyday. It’s about how to stay out of that routine, escape your comfort zone, learn about your surroundings and see what’s actually out there. True, I could do most of these things back in New York. Doing it on a budget wouldn't be too difficult. I lived there on a budget for 24 years. However, I wouldn’t be at the quality of places I’ve been eating and drinking at and I certainly wouldn’t be doing it as frequently.
This brings me to my next point: the things I can have here I’d never be able to have in Western countries. This time I decided to hire a cook for the night. My friend and colleague, Expat Heather, who has 2 nannies (you read that correctly), put me in touch with her cook.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of girls cook for me in my day, but this was the first time I paid one to do it. It’s a much simpler process than going out or even making it myself. I came home, food was already made for me, sat down, watched NFL and took care of myself for a change. It’s important for our own sanity that work doesn’t consume every minute of our lives. Nothing is better after a longs day of work than decompressing on the couch with some quality food.
The dishes were out of this world. I’ve decided to hire her 2x, maybe 3 x a week. Did I mention she cleaned up? And did the food shopping? Curry chicken and potatoes with rice (2 meals), and Beef fried noodles with steamed veggies (2 meals). I wouldn't suggest eating the rice and pasta together, but I just had to have a bit of each. Cost of ingredients $11 dollars. Cost of 2 hours of service: $10, Total Cost $21. Being able to have someone cook and clean for you 3 times a week: Priceless
Soul Burger Restaurant.
I like to think of myself as a burger guy. I usually know when and where to order a burger. I thought I covered them all in Saigon, but these restaurants are trying to outdo the other right as we speak. My colleague Andrew mentioned to me a place called Soul Burger. I had to check it out because I never went there before. In the pouring rain I arrived on a Monday night, only to discover they are closed on Mondays. My burger buds were burning.
I cant stress enough that I am not in this blog thing for the accreditation as a foodie. Even if my mom and my sister are the only viewers of this blog, I’d still be happy. I would also never take a photo of a burger in the US. However, there is a certain joy I get in posting these photos to my Asian friends. This is the equivalent ordering an entire shrimp platter by yourself. And that would be photo worthy.
After checking the website and browsing the menu online I came back with vengeance. I knew I wanted the best burger on the menu and there it was: The James Brown Burger. Loaded with onion rings Cheddar cheese, bbq sauce and homemade coleslaw I knew I was in for a treat. I swallowed my fries with a big bear beer as some good tunes played in the background. Total cost one person: 15 USD.
When it comes to finding a place for coffee, Saigon has thousands of shops. I'm not counting the side of the road stands either. There are literally over 10,000 cafes registered on foody.vn. S
So many choices makes it hard to decide which one is best. Sometimes you just have to pull over, park your bike and walk into the first door you see. Other times, you’’ll see big bright lights, colorful walls and beautiful plants hanging over the balcony. That's Khan Casa.
I drove by this place many times, but never had the courage to walk upstairs. Its located just a stones throw away form the Rex hotel, but recently there has been major construction in this area due to the new metro being built. They have their menu displayed outside, which makes it much easier for the tourist to decide if they want to eat there. I decided to give it a go with a friend of mine. Though not necessarily a coffee shop, it still had what we were looking for: a really cool scene with some fresh air away from the madness. I thought I ordered an ice cream float, but instead I received ice cream floating in margarita glass. Maybe they need to work on their translations, or I need to get better at Vietnamese. My friend had some delicious diced up mango, dragon fruit, and strawberry topped over some creamy yogurt, also in margarita glass. Since this blog was first posted Khan Casa at this location has changed to Trung Nguyen Legend. Its still looks beautiful. You can still find Khan Casa shops on Dong Khoi in District 1.
North End Deli in Thao Dien This deli really puts together a great sandwich. Us New Yorkers like to call it a hero. Call it what you will, I’ll call it awesome. Ask any New Yorker and they'll tell you there is no such thing as a deli outside New York. Just that style of walk in, look at the boar's head meat and macaroni salad on display and order your food, is hard to come by.
After trying the Soul burger recommendation from my coworker, I asked him where else to go.I needed something flavorful, greasy and loaded with meat and veggies. The display wasn’t an exact match to NY style, but hey, I am in Vietnam. Inside decor wasn’t anything to brag home about either. Just like most of the shops in Vietnam, the place was set up to watch the action on the street. The sandwich was a bit smaller in comparison to the behemoths we get back in NY. Quality meat and cheese doesn't come cheap here. Freshly diced peppers, the types of meat, mustard and melted Swiss cheese. Had it not been for the 15 minutes it took to prepare it, I would have ate two of them.Total cost $6.50. Since this post North End Deli has moved or closed it doors. It is now available on Vietnammm.com
The first time I went here, I didn’t know it was actually where I wanted to be. That sounds confusing . Let me rephrase. I went back to this place after reading through some recommendations and realized I had already ate there. This was about two days apart and I mainly attribute this to still not knowing all the street names of Vietnam. That could take a lifetime.
Anyhow, my first experience was a good one. I generally won’t have many bad things to say about food unless its overpriced or makes me terribly ill. I’m certainly not doing this blog as a foody or a restaurant reviewer. I don’t even know how to make rice, but I sure know how to eat it.
The name of the place was Com Tam Thuan Kieu. There are many of them in the city. It’s a chain, but feels like a family establishment. Open walls and flame cooked meat on the street makes this a go to spot for good cheap Vietnamese cuisine. Its just how the locals like it. Nothing I enjoy more than being the only foreigner in a place. In an ever growing international scene, escaping the foreigners can be difficult. Ya just gotta be willing to go into a place that doesn’t look so nice on the outside.
Rice, pork, pineapple soup, strange eggplant in fish sauce and an ice tea (tra da) =$4
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