After a long night of pretending to sleep, we got up, checked out, and set to the streets of Saigon. A cyclone was slated to move into the city, though the full force of the reported 50 mph winds and heavy rain had not yet hit. Instead, we found a muggy drizzle that made the heavy air even wetter.
Our goal was to make it back to the airport for a flight to Hanoi. We took the long route, hoping to come across some breakfast before we made it back. To our surprise, the streets which were quiet and peaceful not more than 5 hours before were full of life and energy, with people in their conical hats walking down the streets, setting up their wares on the street for sale, and an occasional scooter or bicycle splashed through the puddles which were growing ever larger.
We have learned (an re-learned in the past couple of days) that when food is available to not pass the opportunity. We finally found our spot not 400 meters from the airport on a side street. If the sign says “pho” (noodle soup), you can eat it. It seems that a form of soup for every meal is not uncommon here, and thankfully the hot soup kills anything that otherwise makes the water here less than bearable for Americans and our fragile digestive systems.
We walked into the open-air restaurant where a few families sat at the tables to eat their morning pho. After being served, we began picking through the pho and trying to figure out what each ingredient was. Most we were able to identify. The meat, however – not so much. What appeared to be fish still had skin on – a black and silver blob that looked almost rotten (I’m sure it would have been fine, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to even sample it). I attempted to discern between what could have been an either overly-fried egg or fried pork skin. After using all of my might to choke it down without visibly gagging, we decided to call it a wrap.
All while we ate, we were able to watch the family in the back washing mounds of greens, and preparing them for the soup via old, worn machetes. The lady washing the vegetables kept pointing to her cheek and looking at Bree. Thinking she had food on her face, Bree kept wiping her cheek to no avail – the pointing went on. As I went to the counter to pay, Bree made the realization that the lady wanted her picture taken. We happily obliged – the lady was so exited! After every picture Bree she would come look at the LCD in the back and burst into giggles. I think we will like this place.