I mean, look at that thing.
Then you climb up all those stairs (it’s a lot of stairs), and there’s an enormous cave with multiple temples inside.
It’s pretty incredible.
That’s not to mention the monkeys!
There are dozens of monkeys that just hang around on the steps and near the entrance to the cave.
As you can see, they were pretty much the best.
Even if the caves themselves weren’t spectacular (which they were), it would be worth coming here just to see the monkeys.
Plus, here’s some video I took of a monkey eating a banana. Yes: I got to see a real-life monkey eating a banana, so I think it’s safe to say that my life has peaked and that it’s all downhill from here.
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 latest line-based discovery: a street food stand called Uncle Bean, which serves up some seriously delicious tofu-based desserts.
There’s a few things on the menu, but most people seemed to be ordering the tau fu fa, which is an incredibly creamy tofu pudding. They have a few different syrups you can top it with (the tofu itself isn’t sweet at all); I got the brown sugar ginger.
It was really, really good. The tofu is silky and amazing; it doesn’t taste like much, but that’s what the syrup is for. A lot of ginger-based desserts are a bit too overpowering for me, but the syrup here managed to strike a perfect balance of sweetness with a very subtle ginger kick. Bonus: it cost about 50 cents Canadian. I could eat a million of these.
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.
As you’d expect from a place that’s cheap and Michelin-approved, it’s quite busy. But the line moves fast, so within ten minutes or so, I was in.
The menu is fairly extensive, but “Roll Noodles” is right there in the name. I got a bowl of noodle soup that came with minced pork, sliced pork, and crispy pork belly, along with some organs — stomach, liver, kidney, and tongue (plus, they don’t mention it in the menu, but there were also intestines in there; it was quite the cornucopia of pig innards).
It was really, really good. The soup had a bit of a kick, with a nice peppery flavour. And the noodles were kind of like a Chinese version of penne pasta.
Plus, the pork belly managed to stay crispy even in the soup, and all of the various organs were prepared perfectly — no off flavours here at all.
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 didn’t know this before getting here, but there are actually two types of pho: there’s the beef version, called pho bo. That’s the one that we’re more familiar with back home. There’s also a chicken version called pho ga.
I tried both, of course. Again, I’m not a crazy person.
First up is pho ga, the chicken version, which I had at a restaurant called Pho Lam Nam Ngu in Hanoi.
It’s essentially the platonic ideal of a bowl of chicken soup; it had an exceptionally clean, simple (and delicious) flavour. It’s tasty on its own, but once you jazz it up with a spritz of lime and a bit of the chili sauce they’ve got on the table, it really starts to sing.
I wish the noodles had been a bit firmer, but all in all this was a satisfying bowl of noodle soup.
The second restaurant was called Pho Gia Truyen. It’s super popular. The first time I showed up, the place was an absolute mad house; I came back the next day right when it opened, and there was still a line, but it was a bit more reasonable.
It’s packed for a reason. The soup had such an intensely satisfying beefy flavour — with just enough spicing to compliment it but not get in the way — that I didn’t even bother putting any chili sauce or any of the other condiments on the table. I didn’t want to mess with it. It was perfection.
It was topped with a surprisingly generous amount of thinly-sliced beef; that beef was bananas. It was super tender, with a shockingly rich flavour. This was obviously some top-shelf stuff, because it tasted good.
The noodles were pretty great, too. It’s easily the best bowl of pho that I’ve ever had.
I think I might have actually ruined pho for myself, because I’m never going to be able to find anything this good back home. Oh well.