Smoked Salmon at the Hotel Metropole, Hanoi

Smoked salmon is so easy to get wrong. Buy the over-farmed or rapid-cure variety and you may find yourself pulling bits of bland stringy stuff out of your teeth, wondering whatever happened to the true taste of the smoked salmon of yesteryear. Get it right, from a fine farmer of happy salmon and the situation flips on its head; silken folds…

Pho Lights My Fire

If you’re Vietnamese and you don’t like Pho, there’s definitely something wrong with your genetic make up. Pronounced ‘FUH’, pho is Vietnam’s national dish and the thought of that single syllable makes my stomach grumble with longing. Pho’s concept is simple: make a fully-balanced meal fit into a single bowl. The main components are rice noodles, broth and…

Where Epic finds she cannot bear her seatmate/s on Eva Air

When Monsieur booked our flights to Bangkok a couple of years ago, he chose Eva Air. “Eva who?” I asked, somewhat concerned that there existed an airline I hadn’t yet heard of. “They’re Taiwan’s national carrier,” he explained, as if it were common knowledge, which it probably was to everyone else in the world, but…

The Dwellers of Descending Dragon Bay

As the Vietnamese crow flies, Ha Long Bay looks like a short enough distance from Hanoi (170km), but when you take into account the intermittent traffic and terrible roads en route, it takes a good four hours to get there, one way. Monsieur and I weren’t to be dissuaded from visiting this UNESCO World Heritage…

A Vietnamese Lesson in Crossing the Road

(Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City) Monsieur and I had seen how dense Hanoi traffic was and we’d had a brief lesson on how to cross the road from the caring concierge at the Metropole Hotel. Now we just had to do it. Easier said than done. You see, the traffic just keeps coming. It…

Sofitel Legend Metropole – Hectic Hanoi’s Oasis of Calm

(The Sofitel Legend Metropole exterior – colonial style at its best) Driving into central Hanoi is like entering a battleground of traffic and people. The broad avenues invite seas of mopeds and cyclos and bicycles to fill them, with all the noise and hustle that goes with a dense population getting about on zippy two-wheeled…

Hanoi – from Honking to Hairdressers

(Hoan Kiem Lake in Central Hanoi. Don’t be fooled by how calm it looks; there are tens of thousands of mopeds buzzing around its perimeter!) Flying into Hanoi saw my nose pressed firmly against the window, craning to view the Red River in all its glory. With such a bird’s eye view it was possible…

Viet Grill Me!

It doesn’t seem to matter that Viet Grill is located a good twenty minute trek from the nearest tube station; last Friday evening saw it bursting at the seams and I’m quite certain it wasn’t Rent-a-Crowd. Monsieur and I were there to review this well-reputed bastion of Vietnamese cuisine in London and, in spite of…

Vietnam – Tell me what YOU want to know.

When Monsieur and I travelled through Vietnam some time back, this fascinating country and its people had such a profound effect on me that I haven’t yet blogged about it. Every time I think of our journey, my mind fills with such a kaleidoscope of vistas and tastes and people and experiences that it overwhelms….

Epic and the curious Vietnamese “spice”.

Monsieur and I were floating about on a junk in Ha Long Bay, the Unesco wonder site that is a maze of jagged islands and floating fishermen’s villages, when we encountered a tasty condiment on the lunch table. It appeared with a plate of cucumber slices with floral edging, an indicator of Vietnamese cuisine’s obsession with…

Vietnam Itinerary and Flights

Before I start divulging the many and different tales from our recent trip to Vietnam, I thought it might help to post the itinerary we followed. Day 1 Evening flight from London Heathrow to Bangkok. Day 2 Arrive Bangkok. Transfer to Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Day 3 Explore Bangkok with Driver Daeng. Day 4 Fly from…

Goodnight Saigon, Billy Joel

Here’s another Vietnam track to jog your memories. It’s one of my all-time favourite Billy Joel songs (along with ‘Allentown’ and ‘Honesty’). I listened to it over and over when I was (um, well) a lot younger than I am now and in the long version, the beginning of the track where the sound of…