Vietnam Today

Today Vietnam is a thrilling place to be.Resplendent with co lour, exotic smel ls,and delicious tastes, it has risen from the ruins with its spirit intact. From the border with China in the north to the rice mills of the Mekong Delta in the south,his land of rivers and lush, emeraldgreen
paddy fields hums with activity.There are unspoiled beaches, peacefullagoons, dense jungles and rugged mountains with roaring waterfa ll s.Visitors are graciously accepted and the Vietnamese people, in spite of their history of hardship and suffering, are always smil ing and friendly Since the open ing of Vietnam to tourism , there has been a new wave of excitement in all aspects of its cu lture, with a growing emphasis on the cuisine.And, with the spread of Vietnamese refugees to different corners of the world,authentic restaurants have mushroomed
in Sydney, Paris and California, all presenting an intriguing fusion of flavours and history.

The Vietnamese are keen snac kers.Life is genera lly lived in the streets so wherever you go there are markets, small restaurants , cafes and makesh ift stalls made out of bamboo, sell ing or cooking every type of snack. The southern city of Ho Chi Minh City is abuzz with thes sounds and sights of cu linary activ ity.The st reets are so enticingly thick with the smell of cooking you could almost bite the air. From the minute the city awakens just before dawn , the tab les and stools are ready for early workers who come to slurp their bowls of the classic noodles soup pho. Other people sit waiting for the slow drip of coffeefilte ring into cups . Pungent spices likecinnamon, ginger and star anise tickle your nose as you wa lk about among the chaos of puttering motorbikes,pedestrians dodging traffic, tinkling bicycles with ducks and hens spilling
out of baskets and fruit sellers weaving their way through the crowds , pushing carts of pineapple, mango or papaya,freshly peeled and kept coolon a bed ofice. You don't have to look for food in Vietnam; it finds you !



Along the Mekong Delta, some markets are on boats. The best known is the floating market Cai Ran , where the boats converge at dawn. It is a colourful sight as boats laden with bright green bitter melons, long, white radishes, scarlet tomatoes, yellow fruits and freshly cut herbs, bob peacefully in the water


The co untryside village markets are more rem iniscent of a busy barnyard.The squawking and cackling of hens and ducks, and other forms of livestock,remind you that one str iking fa ct about the Vietnamese is that there is little they don 't eat. Roasted dog's head, stir-fried ducks' tongues, grilled fi eld rats,monkey roasted on a spit or the heart of a venomous sna ke are all part of the
dai ly fare. In these live markets, you wi ll also find f is h bladders, coc kerels' testicles, crunchy insects, bats, toads,spa rrows and turtle doves, crocodi les,armadi llos, bears and sea horses.

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