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A street vendor in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Photo by Lisa Petersson
A street vendor in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Photo by Lisa Petersson

Read More About Vietnam on GoNOMAD

Eating Saigon: Bursting with Energy and Optimism

Every day it starts early, as a low rumble, at just after 5 am. By 6 am it has grown to a roar of voices, bells, music, bikes, metal clanking against metal, table legs being dragged along pavement, the squeaking of chains needing oil, and the odd cry from caged poultry. Within an hour the deserted streets are full of bustling activity, energy and purpose.

So what’s all the fuss about?

Food.

Vietnam has more than 500 national dishes and food plays an enormous part in Vietnamese culture and life. For the adventurous and enthusiastic visitor (which I, despite having spent 10 months here, see myself as), it is a mind blowing and bewildering highlight of being here.

Before the sun has made it over the low rooftops of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon and still affectionately called so by the locals) and its rays lit the still dusky narrow alleyways, the clinking of pots begins: steam rising from rice cookers, broth boiling in giant pots, meat grilling over charcoal, vegetables in all shapes and colours are being peeled, washed and cut, and the distinct smell of fish sauce makes its merciless way around the nooks and crannies of the city. Read more..

 

Volunteer in Vietnam Finds Spontaneity and Generosity

It wasn’t the response she had in mind when she asked the class if there were any questions. But then again, Vietnam had been full of surprises for the new teacher. One more wouldn’t hurt.

Schoolchildren in Vietnam - photo by Clare Beckingham
Schoolchildren in Vietnam

After a short silence from the students, a girl stood up to speak for her class: “Have you ever been in love?” she asked.

Catherine Loy laughs when telling this story. After two months of volunteer teaching in Vietnam, and three more to go, Catherine is finding it easy to keep her sense of humor.

“I think the most interesting thing is that although the students are quite shy, they ask very personal questions,” Catherine said.

“They will also be very up front about, ‘Will you come and have coffee with me? Will you be my friend?’”

Which has all been fine for Australian-born Catherine, who volunteered through the Global Volunteer Network (GVN), an organization that connects volunteers with communities in need. She hadn’t expected to be embraced by the community — a city called Da Nang located on the banks of the Han River — with such graciousness. Read more...

 

Read more GoNOMAD stories about Vietnam:

Mui Ne, Vietnam: A Kelly Westhoff Photo Gallery

A Women-Only Bike Trip in Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam: Try The Food

Northwest Vietnam: Friendly People and Breathtaking Landscapes

Sony Stark Visits Vietnam

Smog and Scooters in Ho Chi Minh City

Getting a Taste of Hanoi's Braised Fish Street

Café Society: Vietnam’s Traveler Cafes Offer More Than Coffee

 

Search our directories for tours in Vietnam

Vietnam

. Quy Nhon: Biggest Smiles in Vietnam By Eric Petersen The Vietnamese people are some
The coastline of Quy Nhon, Vietnam. photo by Eric Peterson. Click to return to the story.
Volunteering in Vietnam Finds Frankness, Spontaneity and Generosity By Megan Tady
A street vendor in Ho Chi Minh City, still known as Saigon Vietnam: Energy, Optimism
Country scene in Vietnam. photo by Barbara Onischuk. An All-Women's Trip to Vietnam: Why this Land
Quarter By Kathleen Broadhurst Hanoi, the thousand year old heart of North Vietnam and modern
Mui Ne, Vietnam: A Photo Essay By Kelly Westhoff Vietnam had thrown lots of surprises our way
until 1945. Photos by Robert Reid Hue, Vietnam: Try The Food [Editor's note: Robert
Mui Ne, Vietnam: A Photo Essay - Page Two By Kelly Westhoff We woke with the sun in Mui Ne
China Beach where U.S. soldiers went for a little 'R & R' during the Vietnam War (or American War
A street vendor in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Photo by Lisa Petersson Read More About
Getting started - photos by Lisa Lubin Petal Power: A Women-Only Bike Trip in Vietnam
Mui Ne, Vietnam: A Photo Essay - Page Four By Kelly Westhoff A A From
Sony Visits Vietnam: Echoes of War in a Land of Peace By Sony Stark Even though
Northwest Vietnam: Friendly People and Breathtaking Landscapes By Siobhan McGeady

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