Hello everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful day! In this post, I am really excited to share with you five most interesting things about Vietnam! Yup, only in Vietnam… Are you ready?
1. Vietnamese Local Markets
When it comes to local markets in Vietnam, the lively atmosphere together with market vendors along narrow walking ways with a variety of goods ranging from fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, meats, fishes and clothes come to minds.
Strange to say, most of the people at the local markets both sellers and buyers are women. Coming to local markets is not just for buying fresh ingredients for cooking their delicious meals but also to greet, talk to each other and socialise.
In Vietnam, most people go to local markets twice a day to buy fresh ingredients for preparing lunch and dinner. And women are responsible for preparing the meal. Kitchens are the place for all Vietnamese mothers, grandmothers showing their love through preparing delicious and healthy dishes with all wonderful flavours. There is an idiom about the role of wife and husband: “Men build the house and women make it home”. Even though nowadays, both men and women have equal opportunities for all life aspects, women are still better in charge of doing households and taking care of families.
2. Nón lá – Palm Leaf conical hat
No matter where you go in Vietnam from small villages to big cities, the image of Vietnamese ladies wearing Nón lá (palm leaf conical hat) is a common culture. So what are the significantly interesting things behind this iconic image of Vietnam?
Nón lá is made out of sun-dried palm leaves and bamboo. A piece of ribbon is adjustably stitched to the hat, making a grip from the neck and suiting most head. Nón lá is quite cheap, with just about 30.000-60.000 VND (about 1.5-3 USD). Nón lá is originally used for protecting people against hot sunlight and flood rain. Nowadays, Nón lá has been innovated and designed to be a special souvenir for tourists and a part of designing couture.
Since appearing, Nón lá has been become a dispensable part of Vietnamese daily life, following Vietnamese farmers working at the paddy fields or ladies carrying “Quang Gánh” (two baskets hung from either end of a bamboo pole) filled with fruits or agricultural products or noodle soups… walking along the street. Nón lá is now simply a beautiful creation of the country, carrying the country’s spirit and history. Do not forget to take Nón lá as a special souvenir from Vietnam for your friends.
3. Drinking beer with Vietnamese style
When was your last time to have a pint of beer? Do you add ice cubes into your glass?
It sounds strange for most the foreigners. Even though the beer does come cold, beer served with ice is a common thing in Vietnam. Adding ice cubes will surely affect the taste of beer; however, it does not affect as much as you’d think. In fact, ices could dilute beer and reduce alcohol percentage, so people can drink more. More importantly, having a beer with a chunk of ices is a perfect way for Vietnamese people to freeze the heat and thirst, especially in hot and humid days.
One more not-to-be-missed thing to drink beer (sometimes are coffee) like a Vietnamese is to cheer in Vietnamese style, raising your glass of beer to your company, counting down “Mot, hai, ba .. zô” (One, two, three… and Cheers). Just don’t hold back, try to say as loud as you can. I am sure that it will be very refreshing.
4. Ăn trầu – Chewing paan
Some elders in Vietnam, mainly in the countryside, has black teeth and red lips, which is the result of chewing trầu (paan) for decades. Chewing paan has been a beautiful custom in Vietnam for thousands of year dated back to the time of Hung Kings. Paan is a combination of betel leaf, a wedge of areca nut and a little lime paste. All of them are chewed together, creating red juice in your mouth, offering a sweet taste from areca nut, spicy taste from betel leaf and hot taste from the lime paste and refreshing your mind.
Chewing paan has been a dispensable part of Vietnamese people’s daily life. Traditionally, betel and areca nut was used to start a conversation, bringing people closer together. Betel and areca nut are also served as offerings in many important ceremonies such as engagements, weddings, sacrifices to the ancestors and gods, representing love and happiness.
Nowadays, young people are not much interested in chewing paan, only elders still remain this beautiful custom. However, you can still find fresh betel leaves, areca but, lime paste in many markets in Vietnam for locals prepare for their offerings to ancestors and gods or little gifts for their elders.
5. Ốc lể/Ốc gạo – ‘BABY’ snails
Ốc lể/Ốc gạo (literally means Baby snail) is the smallest sea snail which has a variety of colours and patterns on its shell. One cup of rice snails is just about 15.000 VND but it could take you up to a day to eat them all. This dish might not fulfil your stomach but would be a perfect snack for grandmothers and mothers eating for hours.
After soaking for 1 – 2 hours to remove sand and dust, snails are then cooked with lime, lemongrass, chilli and salt. Once you buy cooked these baby snails from street vendors, a small bag of sweet sour chilli sauce and some thorns from the citrus tree will be given together with your cooked snails. Perfect thorns are from grapefruit tree because it is sharp, hard and gives you a sweet flavour of grapefruit.
The time after Lunar New Year is the baby snails season, lasting until the sixth month in Lunar Calendar. You will find a lot of street vendors in the markets or on the streets selling cooked baby snails. Even though eating these tiny snails could take you a lot of time and efforts, it has been a favourite snack for many people, young or old, men or women.
I hope you enjoyed this post and please follow me for another wonderful read about my country! Feel free to ask me any questions regarding Vietnam below
See you in the upcoming post!