Asia Travel Log #3: Food

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Take a trip with me for a moment back a few years (okay, quite a few if you were in my play group) and recall if you will, your favorite snack or meal. For many it was probably A GOOD OLD PB & J SANDWICH, right?  Mine too. Chunky peanut butter and Welch’s Grape Jelly. Now contrast that against a place where there are not even any supermarkets (or those annoying plastic car-carts American moms squire their little darlings around in).

The Vietnamese eat fresh! As I said there are no supermarkets. REFRIGERATION IS A LUXURY OFTEN CONSISTING OF A RAPIDLY MELTING ICE BLOCK, the water from which somebody will constantly splash over their fish catch in hopes of conserving it until they can sell it. Several people are fully employed in the planting, harvesting and getting to market or the end user, a wide variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. This selection includes many things we have never even seen and most would certainly never eat.

A market we visited in Hoi An, south of Da Nang must have had ten different type of eggs. Some white, some brown, others speckled, and both big and small. There is delicacy consisting of an egg in the embryo form and I am told the most delicious is in the stage just before the feathers are formed. Yikes! Okay, so imagine a young child brought up in Asia turning up their nose at a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I don’t know, somehow it doesn’t wash but I guess that’s just my cultural bias at work. 

What we really did love was going to the night market where in addition to hundreds and hundreds of merchants selling anything and everything, food vendors set up from scratch beginning every afternoon, complete kitchens, prep areas, tables for seating and even bars serving beer, wine or liquor to compliment whatever you are eating. Everything is brought in fresh (in one particuluar instance live frogs strung one on top of another chuckin’ and jivin’ oblivious to their fate), fish in tanks to be cooked to order on outside grills and a ton of different noodle dishes and salads. This market we favored and went to several times in Saigon made a point in print to assure us that all fruit and vegetables were washed with purified water. Same for ice in the beverages. We also had a virtual floor show of activity going on in the street that fronted our table often providing our evening’s entertainment.

Bottom line, you can get almost any kine food in Vietnam or Cambodia -at least in the cities, from the aforementioned street fare (some good some not), right on up to fine dining. It just takes a little adventurism with a dash of common sense to have a great eating experience in Asia and we did!

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
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Michelle Kerr
(Principal Broker/Owner)

Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Asia Travel Log #2: Transportation

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After posting Christmas ~ Hanoi Style many people have asked for more info on my SE Asia trip. Yes, but how’s that relate to real estate and Hawaii, one may wonder? Well, I haven’t been able to come up with a good answer except one advantage of living in Hawaii is the somewhat closer access to new and interesting places you may not have considered otherwise. But I will say this:

“No matter where I go -and I’ve travelled a lot, I always look forward to coming back to Hawaii!”

Anyway, I’m going to break my travel posts up into segments to be more organized and also not to bore anyone too much. So first we’ll start with TRANSPORTATION. And while my inclination is to say US air carriers are inferior – at least from a comfort and service standpoint. My gosh, hats off to Sully the heroic pilot of US Airways who saved all those lives last week! Coincidentally my late father was called Sully (Sullivan is my maiden name) and he was a Phantom pilot too, so his performance hit close to home for me.

Not to beat up on US carriers too badly, I’ll just say JAL (our choice for the first leg of the trip) was super. When we could not get into Bangkok (in the midst of some political difficulties) JAL re-routed us at NO CHARGE! directly on to Hanoi. There was also no charge for baggage or food. And we had a choice of Japanese or American cuisine (neither included soggy chicken parts), complimentary beverages including wine, beer and liquor, and a movie console at every seat with a zillion choices of movies, documentaries, and audio. All important for a long flight!

Once on the ground in Vietnam however, all bets are off as far as a Western concept of transportation. You’ve never seen anything like it. Vietnam is progressing rapidly especially with more cost efficient vehicles from China. Where tuk-tuks and bicycles used to be the norm, motos (motor scooters) have now taken over the roads, at least in the cities. Consider this, Saigon has a population of 9 million, and 80% own motos! It was very common to see entire families sharing one moto. And what a great way to get around as a tourist. Just wave one down, hop on the back and away you go. We never used standard taxis except to and from the airport and then only because we’d booked them before we left home. We travel only with carry-on, making this is very do-able!

Besides the moto and bicycle, either of which serve as merely the frame for anything and everything they may be carrying, there’s all kinds of boat traffic along the many rivers. Vendors transport everything from live poultry (we spotted a guy with about 50 live chickens tied upside down and strung between parallel bamboo poles on the back of his moto), to the ladies who roam the streets with their portable kitchens, setting up virtual restaurants anywhere there may be hungry customers. The various modes of transportation are born of necessity and ingenuity for sure! If you’re game you can get around easily, inexpensively and have a lot of fun.

Aloha, Mike

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals

Michelle Kerr
(Principal Broker/Owner)

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Christmas Shopping ~ Hanoi Style

Okay, I’m sure nobody missed me, but we went to SE Asia for 3 weeks and returned just before Christmas. The most wonderful thing about being away was not hearing about the dang bailout -version 65 or whatever it must be by now! Or thinking about the housing market. Let me tell you, WEALTH, RETIREMENT SAVINGS, HOUSING, EVEN EMPLOYMENT TAKE ON A WHOLE NEW MEANING IN THE STREETS OF VIETNAM, CAMBODIA AND THAILAND (most of which we missed due to that rather inconvenient political coup!).

Never mind that for now, back to Christmas. Though predominately Buddhist, Vietnam does celebrate Christmas and in Hanoi they even have what we called ‘Santa Claus’ Street. hanoi-christmas3.jpgEveryplace is a shopping area, and from the time kids are old to walk and talk they are hawking items on the street. They sell anything and everything from whistles to postcards. The merchandise varies depending on the age, ability and inventiveness of the vendor. But it seems they arrange the stalls or shops in the streets according to what is sold or offered. And being so close to Christmas there was no shortage of shops, stalls and vendors all in a row with Santa Claus suits, decorations and toys. I’m not sure what they morph into once the season is past. My guess is they adapt to the next ‘Hallmark’ occasion and carry on.

I will say, we saw very few beggars. Hardly anyone is just asking for a handout. They are all selling something or providing a service. Whether or not it’s something you want or need is another story. More than once we observed in restaurants when someone apparently ordered something on the menu but not available, the proprietor would take off down the street and find the item, bring it back and, voila, there it is for the customer. On one occasion standing on the street before we even know what was happening a kid around 9 or 10 years old had parked himself right next to my husband and was busy gluing the toe flap of his running shoe that had come loose. It did need repair and Mickey just figured he’d hit it with the glue gun when we got home. Next he was grabbing at Mick’s belt trimming up the belt tine holes (which also needed attention!). No problem, they see a job that needs doing and they’re most happy to do it. You do have to be careful not to over-pay for services rendered -especially unsolicited services, but my point is they will do anything in the way of commerce. And always with a cheerful smile!

The markets have everything you can think of and plenty you’d never imagine (think live frogs, snakes and eels). For Christmas shopping, it’s a delight. They say expect to pay between 50-60% of the first price they throw your way and that proved fairly accurate.

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Items available run the gamut from trinkets, Polo brand (wink-wink) golf shirts, cheap souvenirs right on up to fine tailor made silk clothing (yes, they take your measurements one day and deliver the clothing the next!) and high quality jewellery.

For a change of pace, it sure beats the Macy’s, Walmart, Sports Authority sort of Christmas shopping and was a lot more fun!

Aloha, Mike
****************
Mikie Likes It LLC
Michelle “Mike” Kerr (Principal Broker/Owner)
Realtor Referrals
Mike@MikeSells.com
MikeSells.com
Be informed – read my blog: WestHawaiiBlog.com
(808) 896-1943

On The Road Again!

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I always loved that Willie Nelson song, but more than the verse, I love to travel.

“Get Your Motor Running”

I like that song too. Maybe I was Born to Be Wild! So we’re off again. To SE Asia this time.

Originally we were headed for just Vietnam but you pretty much have to go through Bangkok to get there (that is if the airport reopens !#$&*!) and all those countries (Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) are so close we ended up planning a circle route touching on them all but spending the majority of our time in Vietnam.

A big circle I might add. Honolulu – Japan where we overnight to regroup before proceeding on to Bangkok for 3 days, next embarcing on Hanoi in North Vietnam. We’ll work our way down south stopping a 2-3 spots along the way eventually ending up in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), from HCMC to Siem Reap in Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Center, is a centuries old temple complex whose construction spanned 4 centuries! I can’t wait and will report back after I’ve seen these wonderful places live and in person.

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals

Michelle Kerr
(Principal Broker/Owner)

Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com