We flew from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) to Da Nang, and then a short 30min drive to the town of Hoi An…… a slightly touristy, but extrememly beauitful town. The center of the village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and thus historically preserved… the first night we took some bicycles into the town center, which is where I captured these.
Afterwards, we had some beers at Treat’s Bar for 10,000 VND a bottle… and if that isn’t a reason to come back, I don’t know what is.
After buying a very nice copy of Lonely Planet Vietnam (for $3), we headed straight to the
Reunification Palace (called ‘Independence Palace’ during the American occupation and as ‘Norodom Palace’ during the French), which is said to have remained largely untouched since the PAVN tank bulldozed the gates outside on April 30, 1975, marking the very end of the American/Vietnam war. I don’t know how truthful that statement is, but the interior decorating does scream 1960′s!
Completed in 1873, the French built the palace after their successful colonial conquest of Cochinchina, with building materials mostly imported from France. It served as the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the American war, and was even under Japanese control for several months at the end of World War II after defeating the French in a successful coup. It was then bombed in 1962 by two rebel Southern Vietnamese Air Force pilots and destroyed. President Diệm ordered it rebuilt, but was arrested and assassinated after yet another coup d’état in 1963. A couple more coups later (both failed and successful), the palace was inaugurated in 1966 by Nguyễn Văn Thiệu (who’s name should ring a bell!).
(If you aren’t familiar with Vietnamese history (and this sort of thing interests you), check out some history books, as I did prior to my visit, and although I am somewhat of a history nut already, Vietnam has a very interesting and colorful heritage full of upheaval… worth checking out).
The basement had an interesting layout of old military command centers and bomb shelters, as well as a massive kitchen and shooting range… among other things. If you get the chance to visit, make sure to watch the hilariously propagandist and not-at-all biased films as you exit.
Week 51, this is the second post in my “Mission: Lunch” series, which will showcase some of the lunches I have had the [mis]fortune of having.
First up was “the spiciest thing on our menu”, a hot beef noodle to which I added some Chinese cabbage at Ajisen Ramen, a Japanese restaurant located in the Infiniti Mall on Huai Hai Road (*update* just found out via wikipedia, that they have over 86 locations in Shanghai alone!)… good stuff (but not spicy enough for me!).
Second and third up are from the company hot spot, where we take new colleagues for their first lunch, definitely a good spot. A Hunan-style restuarant located just around the corner of the office on Yunnan Road (south of Huai Hai Road). Their spicy string beans are mighty good, although I am biased as this is one of my favorite dishes (picture #2). Image #3 shows roughly 2/3′s of the dishes from that day… which included bullfrog (square dish), 2 varieties of tofu dishes (one with shredded pork that was amazing), cabbages, pork, chicken, normal eggs and quail eggs.
The last image is of a pickled pepper sort (very unlike the ones you can find in the US which have no spice-factor whatsoever), from a hot pot spot that were so damn tasty I just had to snap a shot. I was with 2 other guys, and we held a little contest to see how many we could each eat. Contestant #1 had zero (0). Contestant #2 had three (3). While contestant #3 had six (6).
I’ll let you decide which one was me.
Later that evening [after the spicy peppers] I finally knocked in my first 8-ball off a break… which I have been trying to do for years. Yes, it was a good day…. yay me!