Hue

The trip to Hue was long, grueling, and mildly rewarding. Hue is what we call the central region of Vietnam. The country is split up into 3 distinct parts, Bac (North), Hue (middle), and Nam (South). Only us in the North speak proper Vietnamese, HAHAH. No, really, all them other Vietnamese people speak some kind of wackadoodle. Those in the South have an annoying high pitched whine that goes along with their speaking, and the Hue people seem to speak a whole ‘nother language. “English, motherfucker. Do you speak it?!” Or rather, Vietnamese. Seriously.

Our first stop was to visit my paternal grandparents’ village, where we, apparently, have a bunch of family that I’ve never heard of. Even my dad rarely go to see them. They live about 3 hours south of Hai Phong. It was weird seeing all these people. The village was very run down and poor, and their house, dark, as it is with most Vietnamese villages in the rural areas.

Both my grandparents were from this village, and way back, probably in the 30’s, they both left the village to go to the city of Hai Phong. They weren’t together, and I’m not sure if they knew each other, actually, but what I do know is that they met in the city and got married, had kids, and my grandfather started his bus business. That’s where my dad was born.

We didn’t stay there too long, just long enough for a short visit, and then we made our way further south to Hue. Including the 3 hour trip to my grandparents’ village, it was probably a 16 hour trip. This was our first food stop. Built on top of some body of water, it was a rather nice idea. We were suspended over the water, with a great view of the fish/shrimp/waterlife farms. My awe at the place didn’t last long though, because I had to pee.

What’s this photo of? What are you showing me? A room? with a little hole in the back? A white box filled with questionable fluid? I thought you had to go to the bathroom. Yeah, I had to go to the bathroom. WTF IS THIS SHIT. I walked in and out of the bathroom umpteen times, refusing to go to the bathroom in this forsaken place. However, we were 6 hours out from the city and another 10 hours from our destination. Yes, I had to suck it up and pee in this bathroom. You can’t even call it a bathroom.

How do you pee there, you ask? You squat, pee on the floor, and the floor is tilted back and the fluids go through that hole. What about the solids? What do you do about the solids?!?! I don’t know. I don’t want to know.

So I go back to our room to eat, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I sat there for the better part of the hour, utterly grossed out, and not having the stomach to eat anything there. It doesn’t help that it was seafood either, and I don’t particularly like seafood. Especially the kind that looked like it was fished out from the muddy waters beyond. I prefer to not know where my food come from k, thanks.

Fish from beyond, that was probably not half bad tasting.

Other food that I just couldn't eat.

Melodramatic, you say? You weren’t there, man. It was horrible. I am just very thankful that I don’t have to put up with that every day. It was a bit of a shock to my system, and I sat at the table, zombified. It’s times like that moment that I wish I were a boy.

In other news, when I got over that, and we got to Hue, we had some rather spectacular dishes. Delicious! A lot of North people don’t like the Hue way of doing things, but I’m down for different foods.

Noodles, bean sprouts, pork blood.

Bun Reu Cua. My favourite dish, Hue Style. Vermicelli with egg/crab mushballs, in a tom yum-like broth, with onions, chili sauce, and cilantro on top.

Chicken

Tofu

Front: boiled pork. Back: Pork and shrimp deliciousness. My favourite way that you can prepare pork, but I don't know what it's called in English. "Thit Lon Kho" though the spelling might not be right. It's a sweet and tangy sautee or something.

Fresh coconut juice (back) and fresh sugarcane juice aka "nuoc mia" (front)

Orange juice.

Passionfruit juice. Yes, I was addicted.

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See Vietnam

Yes, so a lot of these posts are photo-dumps, but I took a lot of pictures in Vietnam. ~1500 on my Nikon, and ~1500 on my iPhone. (Although, now my hard drive refuses to turn on, so hopefully I still have my photos. :| )

Vietnam has some beautiful landscapes. Absolutely gorgeous. Aside from the food, (and I guess, family), looking at the scenic part of it is one of my favourite things. Though, I don’t have many pictures of the city-life, but enjoy the scenic tour of the homeland.

Close to my village.

On the waters of Hai Phong

Behind my uncle's house.

Foggy river.

On a drive up North.

A bridge in Hue.

Oh my, so artsy. This symbolizes the life of an average Vietnamese person. All work, no play. LOL. I kid. Vietnamese people are all play.

This is not the archetype for Vietnamese architecture.

Christmas in Xam Bo

Christmas in Vietnam is a strange feeling for sure. After all the years of Christmas being huddled indoors, hiding from the snow, spending the day in a light sweater and warm weather is a bit of a shock. A nice shock all the same, however.

Xam Bo is my mother’s village, about 15 minutes from the city of Hai Phong. It’s very rural, and very religious. A relative of mine always said (with great disdain) that people from there don’t work, they don’t do anything but sleep, eat, and go to church. Which is true to some extent. So of course, Christmas there is a huge affair. They decorate the village up in garish lights, in a display rarely seen back home. The church, the village’s center, as expected, is done up with no expenses spared. The Christmas mass, held outdoors is a huge spectacle, but to me, and my fellow Canadian youths, it was just another mass. Held at night, way later than we  had gotten used to staying up, and dragged on and on while we sat on rickety wooden benches that we brought from home.

At least, before heading into the church grounds, there were little vendors that sold balloons, candy, and popcorn that were delicious. As boring as the ceremony itself was, it’s hard to deny the very different feel of Christmas that you get abroad. Viva la motherland.

Because there's no snow in Vietnam, they dress their trees up with ratty cotton. It looks very funny. The first time I saw it, they had circled the entire base of a palm-like tree, and I thought it was just growing a cotton-like moss.

Glitter and confetti from Christmas crackers littered the streets that night.

One of the alleys (to call them streets would be too generous) done up for Christmas.

Back of the church.

The entire village (and surrounding areas) showed up for mass.

The front of the church (Nha Tho Xam Bo). Gorgeous, if slightly gaudy.