Summer in Vietnam: My New Favorite Drink

I have discovered a new favorite-sugarcane juice! Small stalls began appearing around the city sometime in April, and while I first thought the idea of sugarcane juice sounded a bit odd, I decided to go for it while visiting Ho Chi Minh City and I’m glad I did! It’s sweet, but not too sweet, with a bit of added lime and ice and very refreshing. Another fun thing about this drink is the way it’s made, like fresh squeezed orange juice, but with a huge piece of sugar cane instead, which is rather entertaining to watch.

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I wish I had a better picture of this, but the sugarcane is pressed through this contraption that’s cranked by hand. The sugarcane is pushed through several times until all the juice is squeezed out and it’s completely flattened. 

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Finished product! Yummmm.

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Or get it to go. If you’re lucky you’ll get a fun Hello Kitty lid! 😉 

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Night Markets and Things I Don’t Need

So I first realized that I might have done this a few days ago, but today it’s been confirmed: I left my camera in the U.S. AWESOME. I only moved to another country over 8,000 miles away. Why not leave my camera? Aarg. 

That just means that you’ll have a few more days (weeks?) of iPhone 3 pictures.

I live on an incredibly exciting (busy) street in Hanoi’s city center, in the  ”Old Quarter”, which has been around since the 13th century. At one time, each of the streets’ names corresponded with what could be found on that street. Everything could be bought here: silver, cotton, charcoal, tin, paper, combs, sails. The street I live on used to sell silk, but today it’s better known for selling clothing. The Old Quarter in Hanoi is chaotic, with hundreds of motorbikes, taxis, people selling all sorts of goods and a few tourists here and there. 

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I’ve shown you a similar picture before, but I want to compare day vs night.

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At night, my entire street turns into an open-air, pedestrian only (kind of ) market filled with clothing, shoes, toys, jewelry, decorative items and many other items that I don’t really need. 

The Old Quarter is rather touristy, so I’m pretty sure that’s the reason the night market is held on my street. Makes exploring easier, but it also means the market is fairly overpriced. 

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These are pretty awesome. I’m not sure what I would do with a beaded flower or bear, but I should probably get one. 

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YES. I want all of these. Especially the sheep. I don’t think I can keep myself from buying one next time. 

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This is not actually a stall at the night market, but a nearby shop. Need any balloons? 

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Just for good measure I’ll add a (blurry) picture of food again. I don’t know what this is. It looks like an egg here, but it’s not. I think the base is gelatinized rice and there are croutons. That’s all I know. 

I just spent 30 minutes on this post, but Tumblr decided to update itself in the middle of my writing so it didn’t get saved. Annoying.

Anyway, it’s been a productive week, only helped by the fact that I’m awoken every morning at 8am(or earlier) by loudspeakers. My biggest accomplishment has definitely been learning to cross the road by myself(woo!). I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered this skill, but it’s definitely getting there. I’ve also had two Vietnamese lessons. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing well, and other times I just feel like I’m making random sounds (Listen to the Vietnamese alphabet here.) My personal favorite sound is ng, which I don’t seem to have the ability to make. 

I’ve been gathering lots of pictures of tasty food, things sold at markets that I don’t need and some tourist attractions, but I don’t feel organized enough at the moment to create an actual post. So for now, here are some pictures of my apartment. 

I live on the second floor (first floor European) and I have a balcony! Yay! I would say this is a pretty typical house for Vietnam. Tall and skinny. 

This is the first floor/entry way to the building/occasional motorbike parking area. My landlady lives on this floor. 

Sorry this picture is such poor quality. This what you see when you walk into my apartment. 

My kitchen. Still don’t have microwave and I have one less burner than I did last year. I only have one saucepan though so I guess that doesn’t really matter. 

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Balcony that faces another building/”courtyard” with no grass. But I have a balcony! 

Bonus picture: a piece of jellyfish from this jellyfish salad. I didn’t actually try it though, so I can’t tell you what it tastes like!

I’m at my new (temporary?) apartment in Hanoi! So far I can’t say I’ve done much. What I can tell you is that after a night of unrestful, jetlagged sleep, I was awoken by several  entertaining (for now) happenings:

1: A rooster. At 5:30 in the morning. Perfect! I won’t ever need an alarm clock here. I’ve heard it’s better to wake up naturally anyway, though I’m not quite sure whoever said that meant the alarm clock itself should be natural…

2. Motorbikes. I was expecting this. Just take a look at this Google image search of traffic in Hanoi and you’ll see why. For the record, traffic does not last all night. I know this because I was up from about 3:30 to 4:30 this morning (thanks, jet-lag!) and only heard the occasional motorbike. 

3. Loudspeakers. Around 7 this morning, a loud, 80s style Vietnamese song floated in through my window. I’ve read that the loudspeakers around the city give announcements, but I’m fairly certain this was just music. Of course, I guess I wouldn’t know if they were in fact singing the announcements. 

4. A megaphone. Between the melodious sounds of morning announcements, someone was shouting through a megaphone. Once again, no idea why. What’s amazing though is as I’m writing this, someone has started to shout announcements again. Perfect timing! Must be telling me it’s time for bed. Here’s to a night of uninterrupted (that means you, jet-lag) sleep.! At least until the rooster crows. 

I’ll leave you with a picture of my new neighborhood:

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And this:

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Some “fresh tea” flavored mouthwash I found at the supermarket. I’ll have to try that..

March 2nd:

This is a sign at the entrance to a walking path along rows of gardens.  It pretty much just says that dogs aren’t allowed in, but the chihuahua in glasses cracks me up.

March 3rd:

The store/kiosk in front of one of my schools.  The best part is obviously the hotdog clad in the US flag.

March 4th:

The view of Prater (an amusement park in Vienna) from my friend Allison’s apartment.  Jealous.  

My lack of posting is partially due to laziness (okay, actually that’s a big part of it) and partially due to the fact that my computer is so freaking slow. My apologies.  I actually tried to do this yesterday and my computer was just not having it. 

Feb. 18th:

The Naschmarkt in Vienna.  If you need something specific in the way of food, the Naschmarkt is the place to get it.  Every imaginable fruit, vegetable, sauce, sweet, spice and more.  Usually there are a lot more people at this place, but the weather wasn’t great.  I may have to post another picture when the atmosphere looks a little more lively. 

Feb. 19th:

One of my favorite bars-Donau Bar.  There are usually images projected onto the wall, although they aren’t usually about English.  This says something like “English is the criminal/underground/organized crime language”.  Pretty odd, but thought provoking I suppose.

Feb. 20th:

All of this is made out of marzipan.  Austrians are pretty obsessed with it.  Shops like this selling marzipan animals, sausages, fruits, etc. are quite common, not to mention it’s found in many well known pastries and candies.  It’s not my favorite, but I definitely don’t hate it.  (I would never eat anything like the above though…I’m not even sure you should eat it!)

Feb. 21st:

There are very few, if any, direct trains to Horn from Vienna.  That means I have to wait awkward amounts of time in small towns.  This particular town is called Zellerndorf, population: 3,000.

Feb. 22nd:

After about a week, the sun finally returned to Horn.  Thankfully it has stuck around since.  I’m pretty sure this is part of the outdoor swimming pool, still partially frozen.

Feb. 23rd:

Orchids.  🙂

Feb. 24th:

Totally empty train.  Somewhat creepy.

Feb. 25th:

Spinatnockerln…small dumplings made out of spinach and covered in cheese.  Yum.

Feb. 26th:

Stephansdom, Vienna’s cathedral.  I love the history here. 

Feb. 27th:

Demmel Cafe has an observation room where you can watch as cakes and pastries are decorated. 

Feb. 28th:

These signs seem to be common around Horn.  It says something like “Nature in the garden. Healthy owners keep us healthy.”  From what I understand, you should put this in front of your yard if you keep it natural.  For example, letting the grass grow (not mowing the lawn) and having a fence open enough for animals to get in and out.  Not sure of all of the rules, but I think it’s really cool.  I wish America would adopt an attitude like this!  And yes, there are wild hedgehogs in Austria!

Mar. 1st:

An artsy attempt.  Today was not a very exciting day.  

12th:

The Gloriette-which looks down on Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Hapsburgs.  I had a ridiculously overpriced coffee there.  I love the Gloriette, but having coffee there is just not worth it.  You can’t see the view of the city from inside!

13th:

U-bahn.  Public transportation is definitely one of my favorite things about Vienna.

Feb. 14th:

Typical Austrian breakfast to start my week off.  Hot chocolate, semmel (roll), butter and a soft boiled egg. Yum.

The grocery store gave me a daffodil with my purchase because it was Valentine’s Day! 🙂

Feb. 15th:

I think there is a picture of this spot already on here, but I like this view and it’s winter now.  This is the field I pass on my walk to school everyday.