16: Master Chef Vietnam – Hanoi

Sunday 28th July 2019

Day 89 in Southeast Asia

Today was the day I finally did a cooking class in Southeast Asia! I grabbed my free all you can eat breakfast at the rooftop, before my pick up for the class at 9am. In true Asian style they collected me half an hour late and then whizzed me to a nearby restaurant on the back of a motorbike.

The Vietnamese bike driver sat with me and chatted to me for 15 minutes about food in very broken English. He told me he came from the Hoa Binh province. I’d visited Mai Chau there 2 and a half months ago. I showed him photos of where I’d been and he showed me pictures of his home town. It was lovely until he showed me a picture of him sedating a pig LOL.

Then the lady running the cooking class told me what I would cook. I was the only one booked onto the morning class so I had a private lesson! I was super lucky, she said sometimes she has groups of 30, and people pay extra for a private class. This class cost me 820 VND / 35$ / £28.

We were going to cook fried spring rolls, papaya salad and deep fried stuffed tofu in tamarind sauce. First we headed out to the local market. She showed me where all the ingredients for the dishes comes from and bought some tofu and rice noodles for my dishes.

This fruit pictured below is called ‘lucky fruit’. She said it’s very expensive and you can’t eat it, but people buy it because they think it brings you good luck.

When we returned I put on my chefs hat and apron and started cooking. We made the salad first, then springs rolls and finally the stuffed tofu. As I was the only one the class took much less time than it normally would.

It was then down to me to eat all the food, which was hard after my buffet breakfast!! They let me have all the leftovers for takeaways though so I had my dinner covered too.

I walked back to my hostel, which was only 5 minutes away. I fly to Indonesia tomorrow so had to sort all my laundry out and organise my rucksack. Living out of a bag isn’t even a burden anymore. It’s actually so much easier because I only have like 3 packing cubes of things. I can’t wait to get rid of so many things when I get home because I’ve realised I just don’t need it all!

I went out for a wander at around 2 and bought some very cheap (and very fake) Fjällräven Kanken bags. I really wanted to have one final egg coffee before leaving Vietnam for the last time tomorrow. I grabbed one at Mit coffee which was really thick and really amazing. It started to rain so I sat in the comfort of the coffee shop whilst the shower passed.

Whilst I walked back to the hostel, it began raining again. I took a dip in the hostel pool when I got back. Yes, my £4 hostel offers a soft mattress, free buffet breakfast and a pool! 

A bit later on I finished my leftovers from the cooking class for dinner and then went out for a bit of a walk around to see the lake at night. The Hoan Kiem Lake looks so pretty when lit up at night. Whilst I was taking some photos a couple of Vietnamese girls came over to me and asked to chat with me. They’d just moved to Hanoi to study English and wanted some practise. 

I made my way back to the hostel through the craziness of the night markets and grabbed 1kg of mango steins on the way. They are undoubtedly my favourite fruit here and I need to make the most of them before I go home. I think 1kg should be enough to keep me going on the flight tomorrow! 

So that brings me to the end of my time in Hanoi, and the end of my time in Vietnam!! It’s been an amazing week and I’m so glad I returned. I can’t wait to come back to this country again in the near future because it really is my favourite. The delicious cheap food, the amazing hostels with free breakfast, the beyond beautiful landscapes, the ever helpful and friendly locals, the adorable children that wave at you whenever you drive past, the ridiculous traffic, the crazy drivers, all those bloody motorbikes…I could go on.

Vietnam you have my heart and I feel beyond lucky to have experienced you twice.

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