I love the regional flights in Vietnam, it is a normal daily occurrence for many I have discovered in this wonderful city. “Carry on” luggage helps and makes it pretty much pain free. They are cheap and so far reliable. My last domestic trip to Hanoi booked at the last minute. The thing I do notice on these internal trips whether train or plane, is the kindness afforded by the locals. As a solo traveller, I must at times look totally bewildered and out of place. On more than one occasion I have been offered food on these transit journeys. Food, the universal language and the reason for The Food Manifesto.
A train ride from Sapa last year was taken over the Khmer New Year and seats on the train were at a premium. My seat although facing backwards was one of the last available and for many hours we rocked along the tracks with an assortment of children, families and luggage. The only westerner on the train I was eventually taken pity on by a lovely family who offered green mango and salt. At least I think that was what is was, I gratefully took her offering and munched through it until my destination. There was a food cart on the train but my stomach was not up to the menu and if I was being honest my knowedge of Dong ( Vietnamese currency).
Similarly the trip to Hanoi last weekend -my return flight a young lady 3 seats across offered me a bunch of Longan fruit ( not pictured here ) she passed the fruit and rubbish bag and serviette across 3 people to me. I must look like I need fruit, it was very gracious of her and she never spoke to me or made any attempt to communicate.
Kindness comes from the most unusual places. I was grateful to her, I was leaving my friend (again) and was feeling fragile. I am to learn this might be common place until I establish a routine.
Food here in Vietnam seems to turn the economic wheels. I had Vietnamese pizza for the first time the other night which arrived on thin rice paper and topped with all sorts of goodies. It was delicious, light and very inexpensive. I sometimes feel very overwhelmed with the street food, there is so much I do not know nor understand and without a “local” to help, it’s very much trial and error. I am pretty adventurous but I must admit I am careful, having been sick a few times in Asia it is a horror if you get it wrong.
Airport food is also very good here and since being here one of the best Beef Pho’s I have had was at the Hanoi airport. For an Australian that’s un heard of.
Experience tells me to stay away from peeled fruit, and salad ..anything washed in water and distinguished Vietnamese gentleman smoking perfumed cigarettes in your local cafe. I have survived another day.