First up: the Golden Prosperity Burger, which consists of a chicken patty (it’s also available in beef), a hash brown, black pepper sauce, and onions. I didn’t care for this one at all. For one thing, it was easily the sloppiest burger I’ve ever had at McDonald’s; the soft bun was barely even able to hold up under all that sauce. The chicken patty was really bottom-of-the-barrel — it was one of the shoddiest reconstituted chicken patties I’ve ever had. Plus, the sauce was just one-note peppery. It really needed pickles or something acidic to balance things out a bit.
Up next was the Bubur Ayam McD, which was a rice porridge with chicken, green onions, fried shallots, ginger, and sliced chilis. This was actually not bad at all — the rice had a good texture, and all of the flavours worked pretty well together, with the fried shallots adding some crunch.
Last but not least was the Red Bean Pie. This was about as close to a sure thing as it gets. I mean, it’s a crispy fried McDonald’s pie filled with tasty red bean filling. Yeah, it was quite good.
The other day I plugged my destination into Google Maps, as I am wont to do (no joke: Google Maps single-handedly makes this trip possible, because my navigation skills are nonexistent). The public transit directions seemed to indicate that I take a boat, which seemed odd, but I went with it.
The directions brought me to a rickety old dock next to a narrow river. After a couple of minutes, boat showed up, pulled over to the side of the dock for about ten seconds, then left again.
About five minutes later, another boat pulled up; this time I got on. There’s no plank — you just jump on, and then someone comes around to collect your fare.
It was an odd experience, especially since the boat goes fast.
I felt pretty woozy by the time I got to my destination, but it was such a memorable way to get there that I didn’t even mind.
There are so many amazing buildings here.
Not to mention the statues.
And these weird pointy… things… I have no idea what these are. They look quite nice, though.
Then of course there’s the most famous thing here: the reclining Buddha statue.
I don’t think the photos quite give you a sense of how big this thing was, but it was absolutely enormous.
They also had this thing in the same room with the statue where you could buy a small bucket full of coins, and then individually plunk them into various pots lined up along the wall. I had no idea what this was for, so I didn’t do it. I’m sure I missed out on a potential good luck bonanza.
A couple more pictures:
I stumbled across this one while I was walking around the city; unlike the Ben Thanh market, which felt quite touristy, this one was clearly just a local market.
There’s something very entrancing about wandering around a market like this and just taking in all of the sights (and sounds, and smells).
There was a vendor selling a tropical-looking fruit (I looked it up, and I’m pretty sure it’s jackfruit). I figured I’d give it a shot.
I wasn’t crazy about it. It had a mildly farty flavour that reminded me of a much, much less intense version of durian (durian, for the unaware, is a notoriously stinky tropical fruit that tastes like literal garbage. Not only is it the worst fruit I’ve ever had, it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten).
Thankfully it wasn’t quite as foul as durian — I was actually able to eat most of it — but it’s definitely not something I’d want to eat again.
Take, for example, bun bo hue. I just had a bowl of it at Bun Bo Hue Nam Giao, and it made a strong case that there should be room in your life for more than one noodle soup from Vietnam.
It’s got a zingy, ever-so-slightly sour broth that’s really satisfying; it’s much more of a face-punch of flavour than the comparatively subtle pho.
It comes with various sausagey mystery meats that are all quite tasty, and a couple of plates worth of veggies and hot peppers to customize your bowl.
I should note that those peppers are inferno hot; I added most of them to the soup, which was probably a mistake. The peppers themselves were fiery little spice-bombs, and they quickly infused the broth with their intense heat. I have a fairly high tolerance for spicy foods, but even I found this to be a bit much. I was getting pretty sweaty by the time I finished the bowl.
And yeah, the Dragon’s Back definitely lives up to its name; it features some absolutely jaw-dropping views.
The amount of satisfaction that I get from hiking is something that has really surprised me on this trip. I sort of figured I’d be sticking completely to cities — and that is pretty much what I’m doing — but being able to get out and see nature every now and then is actually really nice.
Of course, it helps when the sights are this spectacular.
I think we’ve reached the point where I’m just going to let the pictures do the talking.