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World Is An Evil Place For a Vegetarian! Part VII

World Is An Evil Place For a Vegetarian! Part VII

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In the 7th part of series of her soon to be published book, Sashi Sherpa was disappointed as the most awaited ‘ha long bay’ cruse was cancelled but she continues her journey in Vietnam exploring food options where she finds scarcity of vegetarian food options.

As our cab started rolling towards the hotel where we had our accommodation booked- I could see the falling face of my colleague Ashish. There was a contrast between the two cities- Hanoi seemed to have lagged slightly behind compared to its sophisticated cousin, down south. The way from the airport to the Old Quarter in Hanoi passed through the road that had residential houses, small shops but nothing fancy.

Ashish did not seem to enjoy what he saw. Of course, no hot looking female walking or glitz and glamour filled cafes or restaurants – it broke his soul. I don’t blame him- as it resembled oddly to some cities in India. I can understand the fascination for westerners. But, we Indians, get fascinated by things that are shiny, blingy, extravaganza, super flamboyant- one of the reasons why Dubai sold like a hot cake in India.

“Chill bro, don’t make assumptions so fast,” I said reading his expression,“You may find even hotter chicks here.”

He did not reply to me and looked sad.

“Bro, we will make sure you have the best time of your life here,” Saraniya also pitched in.

“I don’t know, but I am not liking it,” he continued to make a sad face.We allowed him to be in his space- we knew he will come around.

Next day the news did not make us feel any better- the most awaited ‘Ha Long Bay’ cruise stay had been cancelled due to the corona pandemic that had slowly started spreading its tentacles to the nearby countries. We were disheartened but we appreciated the effort of Vietnamese government who actually did magic by not letting the numbers shoot up, despite being so close, geographically.

We spent our day by doing touristy stuffs- looking around the shops of Old Quarter Hanoi, buying souvenirs before we finished our budgets. I personally loved the charm and that oldness of this place- I get fascinated by things that are more authentic and closer to its origin- in a way, you can call me a person with an old soul. I even liked the hotel where we stayed called ‘Dolce Vita’ right at the heart of the old Hanoi, built in traditional style- it had huge massive wooden doors and I am not lying, they had latch so long which was taller than me. Beauty of Saraniya’s and my room was- it opened to a traditional looking veranda from where we could see the whole street below us.

Opposite to our hotel was some spa named- ‘Sen Spa’ and we actually teased our colleagues in Hanoi that we saw their spa too- as the Vietnamese company we represented in India was called ‘Sen Travels’- the one behind putting fabulous itinerary and handling the whole reservations. The one thing I could not phantom was the owner’s fascination for keeping such Italian name for his hotel. I could have understood if it was a modern looking hotel, but the name was such a contrast to the hotel’s architecture.

Well, let me not be such a critic- maybe the owner is an Italian or married to an Italian, or maybe fascinated by Italy. My brain went on blah, blah, blah… inside my head, until I no longer paid heed to it, eventually letting it to stop contemplating.

What we also learnt was: ‘Nguyen’ was a very common Vietnamese family name, as we came across many spas, money exchanger, saloons, buses, café etc. named after it. Don’t get shocked if you come across, from drivers to porters, from receptionist to guides giving this family name. Secondly, I was beyond excited along with Saraniya to know that we were sitting in the hub of famous street food in Vietnam.

We just had to walk out of our hotel- there were lines of street food cafes in every lane or road we took. We sat at one of the roadside cafés to try those delicious looking fried prawns- coated with cornflower which they offered us on plate, garnered with raw garlic, raw red chillies and half of the plate covered and in the name of salad, there were really big portion of all kind of green leaves-spinach, basil leaves, lettuce and I think even coriander leaves. It was so yummy when you eat that fried prawn, slightly varnishing it with the famous fish sauce and topped it with chilli and garlic- it’s out of this world delectable. My mouth is watering even now when I am writing this- thinking of it.

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“Looking at our plates”, Ashish made face, “Seems, they just pluck these things from the field and put it straight on the plate. Like how do you even eat this?”

That was a sad description but honestly, one glance on your plate and it was almost like seeing mini jungle on your plate. But I devoured it because I love raw leaves, salad and anything that’s only boiled. Saraniya attacked only the solid meat part.

With my mouth full with food, I asked the café lady, “Is there anything vegetarian items you have?”

She nodded her head in yes and pointed out to the fried spring on one of the bowls next to her. I asked for it while also handing back our plates for second round.

She refilled our plates and just next to our prawns, she placed three vegetarian spring rolls. Before we could push that away or ask for another plate, Ashish saw that.We tried convincing him to eat the ones that were not laid next to our loving prawns but he did not budge. We ate that also, eventually!! We did not want to discriminate the spring rolls.

Also read: Welcome to Ho Chi Minh – Part VI

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