Saturday, March 7, 2009

Joy is Pho, Coffee, Tea

One small plane hop, and here I am in Vietnam.

This trip began in 2005 when I took appartment into what would become the birthplace of the Vietnamese Expat community in Providence. You might have heard the joke before, during that period I had between 3 and 12 roomates depending on how you counted, since many Viets who officially didn't live there nevertheless spent most of their time with us. Every evening we hosted the group diner (feast!) which was full of fun and sillinesses et surtout, bien arrose'. I soon learned not to skip the diners, first because when in Rome you don't skip diner, and second because they did wonder for my happyness level. Nearing the end of my time in the house Cou~'ng had the best quote: "By now you may think you know Vietnamese culture, but be careful, we are, actually, pretty cool. :)"

Cou~'ng, it's time for me to find out just are cool you are.

I landed in Hanoi on Saturday (Feburary 28) and proceeded to gather the elements necessary for this trip. Motorbike, check. Helmet, gloves, road map, insurance, check check check. With my trusty leather trenchcoat, I was ready to face the mountains of North Vietnam. Trecheous yes, but they are also reputed to contain some of the best moto rides on the planet.

In Hanoi, you order Pho. Or rather, you stumble with your non-existant Vietnamese trying to order a meal, and the woman correctly assumes that you want Pho. In Vietnam, it's Pho for breakfast, Pho for lunch, Pho for afternoon snack, etc. There is a clock somewhere that counts the time before I tire of Pho, but this country isn't old enough to contain it. The Pho in Hanoi is delicious, as I expected.

What I did not expect, was to meet the love of my life in Hanoi within 12 hours of my arrival. Early Sunday morning, Nguyen took me to a coffee house for a true cup of Vietname coffee, dark, deep, sweet, rich and almony. What I wonder! I'm sorry Italy, I'm sorry expresso, for now on I have eyes only for Caffe'e no'm su^a.

Thus, with Pho and coffee, this trip was off to a good start, and it will get better as I ride deeper into the tea-producing country side. I can't wait.

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