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Lauren Visits Vietnam – Intrepid Real Food Adventure

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In January 2016 I visited Vietnam on the 12 day Intrepid Real Food Adventure.  The 12 day trip starts in Hanoi and finishes in Ho Chi Minh City.

Here are a few of my trip highlights:

Halong Bay

Halong Bay is just stunning and not one of my photos does it justice. It is really somewhere everyone should visit. We spent time on a traditional Junk boat, sailing between the thousands of limestone islands, before anchoring in the still waters for the night where we had cocktails and dinner prepared by the chefs onboard.

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The chef also came out to teach us how to make a ‘fruit flower’ and a ‘carrot net’.

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Cooking Classes

We took part in 4 cooking classes during our 12 day Real Food Adventure (one was an optional activity) – i think there was a good balance of cooking classes, trying local dishes and sightseeing on this tour. We learnt how to make the traditional Pho Beef noodle soup, cold rolls and my favourite recipe was banana flower salad.

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Cycling Tour in Hoi An

We went on a cycling tour of UNESCO world heritage Hoi An where we cycled through the old town, stopped at markets where the locals shop, and cycled through the beautiful rice fields and herb gardens of Tra Que village. We then finished the morning with a cooking class at Morning Glory Cooking School.

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Motorbike Tour in Hue

We went on a motorbike tour of Hue where we saw the city by motorbike as the locals do, had a vegetarian lunch at a local nunnery and stopped off at various sights around Hue including the Citadel.

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Traditional New Year’s Eve Dinner at Charlie’s neighbour’s house

Charlie (our tour leader) invited us to a very special home cooked dinner while we were in his home town – Hue. We visited his house where he grew up, met his parents and 93 year old granny, and we had an amazing New Year’s Eve dinner at his neighbour’s house. This was some of the best food we had on the entire trip and was a fantastic experience meeting these families and seeing how they cook and live at home. Something we definitely would not have been able to do if we were just travelling solo.

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Weird Wonderful Food

It wouldn’t have been a ‘Real Food Adventure’ without getting a little outside our comfort zones when it came to trying new foods. We tried a few exotic things like snails, pig brains and frog, but the strangest/most interesting food we tried in my opinion was Che – a Vietnamese sweet dessert soup.

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Colourful Markets

We visited lots of markets on the Intrepid Real Food Adventure, to see how the locals shop and try new foods. There aren’t that many large supermarkets in Vietnam and locals usually shop at the markets for all of their groceries. The Vietnamese diet is made up of mostly fresh ingredients with minimal packaged or processed foods. I love the amount of fresh herbs that are used in Vietnamese cooking!

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Mekong Delta Home-stay

We spent a night in the Mekong Delta at a home stay, which is only accessible by boat. On the way we saw the floating markets, and visited local food producers including a family that made fish sauce (staple in Vietnamese cooking) and also saw how the locals make hand made coconut candy. We then helped our hosts prepare dinner and relaxed on the hammocks along the river with a nice cold beer. Heaven!

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Ho Chi Minh City

We went on a Cyclo City Tour of Ho Chi Minh City on a rickshaw style bike which was one of my trip highlights. Cycling through the alley ways in the markets and through the crazy traffic was a fantastic way to see the city and take lots of photos. We also visited the War Remnants museum and went to the walking street night markets. The tour finishes in Ho Chi Minh City and many of the group stayed on to explore the city for a few days.

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Vietnam is an amazing country, full of colour, hard working and friendly people, and delicious, fresh food. The Intrepid Real Food Adventure is a great way to see all the highlights the country whilst learning about the food & culture as well. I felt that there was a great mix of food related activities and also other sight seeing and cultural aspects in this tour. We learnt a lot about the Vietnamese culture, and we got to enjoy lots along the way with a bunch of like minded individuals which was fantastic. If you enjoy cooking (or eating) food and travel, I would highly recommend taking a look at a Real Food Adventure or Gourmet Explorer as your next trip.

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