Virtual Passport visits Vietnam

If someone told me 30 years ago I would someday be sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam drinking beer and having my nails done; I would have told them they were “out of their mind.” I grew up in the generation that heard the horror stories of the Vietnam War– napalm, agent orange, women secretly wearing a bomb designated to explode (sound familiar), guns hidden underneath the beds of children, the dreaded Vietcong hiding out in villages ready to attack unsuspecting American soldiers helping to defend democracy for the South Vietnam people.
But there I was, one third of the way through my trip to the other side of the world– initially planned to visit my son living in Jakarta.
Too many people had been telling my husband Peter and myself what a beautiful place Vietnam is to visit, so after much deliberation, we added it to our itinerary. The photograph shows us with our guide Le` Thi Thanh Hieu on our second day in Hanoi.
Early that morning when we started our tour, I saw small plastic chairs similar to what you see used in nursery schools stacked up on the sidewalks. We also saw a lot of broken egg shells. “What is that all about?” we asked Le`.
“After they get off work, the men enjoy gathering for drink or two of beer, which they often eat with hard boiled chicken eggs with fetuses inside–a delicacy!”
It was mid afternoon when we finished a tour of the markets and enjoyed a gourmet meal of sizzling fish, fresh herbs, vegetables and rice. When the chef and gourmet cook who was our “associate guide” learned that Peter enjoyed an cold mug of beer, he added the stop for beer to our itinerary.
A mug of beer, brewed locally (basically a homebrew) sells for a mere fifty cents in American currency. (Maybe even less if you are not a foreigner) It was refreshing in the 110 degree heat. This past summer it was unusually hot for North Vietnam, but make no mistake there is no clear north or south. It is one country. A socialist country yes, but a country that strongly believes in entrepreneurship and free enterprise. While we were drinking down our beers, I noticed the ladies on the sidewalk next to us were operating a manicure stand. A small cart on wheels held everything needed, and like the beer stand they had small white plastic chairs. They offered me and my daughter Alex a manicure– “Only $2.50” when converted into American dollars. So what better combination than the luxury of having your nails done while relaxing at a sidewalk bar with friends telling stories. So while I’m thinking about beer, I’ll remind my friends living in the Chesapeake Bay region to vote in the Beer Madness competition for their favorites. Just go to http://www.WhatsUpMag.com and vote! More about my adventures in another blog post…

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Author: Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Currently in the Stoneooast MFA writing program (University of Southern Maine), genre literary fiction. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, in charge of three magazines: "What's Up? Annapolis", "What's Up? Eastern Shore", and "What's Up? Weddings", former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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