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Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

We just got into Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) today after nearly missing our flight due to some itinerary confusion with PAL. But it all worked out and we were stoked for pho!
When we got to our hotel though–the Sheraton Saigon–we were greeted by a big beautiful hotel and room upgrades. On our way out to get some pho, we stopped to check out the lounge at the hotel and found a buffet of sashimi, delicious cheeses, and miniature desserts. Needless to say, we needed a break before we could handle the pho.

What is pho?, you may ask. It’s kind of like the Vietnamese version of chicken noodle soup, but way, WAY better. It’s comprised of thin, white rice noodles, clear beef broth, meat of your choice (I’m partial to the classic pho tai, thinly sliced pieces of raw beef that are cooked when the hot broth is poured over it), and any toppings you want to throw in, ranging from the nearly mandatory bean sprouts and lime to a variety of fresh herbs. It’s the kind of food I could never get tired of; I literally ate it at least once or twice per week last year. It’s just warm, tasty goodness in a bowl.

Ho Chi Minh City is pretty cool so far. A bit cooler and less humid than Manila, the weather here is a welcome (if only slight) relief. And while the two cities are aesthetically pretty similar at first glance, there are a couple main differences. For one thing, there are tons of small parks scattered throughout the city. It seems like there’s a field of grass or a swingset or an outdoor elliptical machine almost every other block. I guess I didn’t realize that the Vietnamese were such fit people.

The other difference is the bikes. Motorcycles and scooters everywhere!! I’ve been wondering a lot lately about why there aren’t more accidents in these kinds of places than there are. Huge, seemingly impossible loads teeter precariously on the backs of these cycles, some families of four balancing themselves on a single bike. It’s nuts. And really cool.

But anyway, after an hour long break from eating, we headed out to a place I found upon researching Ho Chi Minh City, a place called Pho Hoa Pasteur. It’s located on Duong Pasteur (Pasteur Street) about 2 miles from our hotel. The storefront is doorless, but the inside of the restaurant is pretty clean. I was a little bit skeptical when our taxi driver told us that this place was frequented and loved by tourists, but when we entered, there was not a tourist to be found, as far as I could surmise.

The five steaming hot bowls of pho tai came out just a couple of minutes after we ordered them, followed by plates overflowing with Vietnamese foliage–seasonings for the soup. The pho was delicious! And a plate of long, fried (not sweet) donut type things were included with our meal. These are familiar to me, as they’re Chinese as well and my mom’s favorite, and I found that they absorbed the savory broth well when dipped.

The tab for a large bowl of pho with toppings, drink, and those fried dough things for five people? 220,000 dong; roughly $11.


So far, we have not been disappointed. We have a tour tomorrow and the day after, and facebook is blocked here.  Hopefully these are all positive things.


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