Vietnam From Your Living Room
Warm up to Vietnamese life with an un-Pho-gettable meal
Vietnam is home to some truly incredible food. Spring rolls are as good as they get. Crusty baguette bread is used all over the country to make Banh Mi – a Vietnamese subway style sandwich. There are loads of incredible flavours to be tasted throughout the country. In typical Asian fashion, the signature dish of Vietnam is a noodle-based soup called Pho (pronounced ‘Fa’).
Pho is made up of a beef stock, onion, bean sprouts, thinly sliced beef and rice noodles. It’s fairly simple to cook, although making the stock is fairly time consuming. However, it is my promise to you that a well-cooked Pho is certainly worth the effort! Veggie & Vegan variations of the recipe can be found online too.
If you fancy giving it a go, here is a short video you can use to guide you. For the authentic Vietnamese experience, practice eating your Pho with chopsticks and a spoon! When Vietnam opens up again for travel that’ll be a sure-fire way to impress your Vietnam Intro leader!
Dive into a Vietnamese tradition with some origami lanterns
If you’ve researched Vietnam before as a travel destination, I’m confident you’ll have read about Hoi An before. Often people’s favourite place in Vietnam, Hoi An is known as the ‘city of lanterns’. The old town is a UNESCO heritage site, and limits the vehicles that are allowed in. Cars, busses and scooters are not allowed (although some cheeky moped drivers will sometimes ignore this).
The old town is known as a ‘walking and cycling town’. Boasting beautiful French style architecture dating back to the French colony, the Hoi An old town is quite the sight to behold. Vietnamese tradition in Hoi An is to hang beautiful hand-made colourful lanterns outside their homes and shops. In recent years they’ve really taken this up a notch, and now the streets are decorated with huge strings of lanterns!
On our Vietnam Intro trips, an optional lantern making class can be arranged for you by your group leader. You can learn to make proper Vietnamese lanterns with a local instructor completely from scratch!
If you want a little taste of the Vietnamese tradition from your home, try making some origami lanterns. There are lots of tutorials on YouTube. Most of them focus on Diwali or Chinese style lanterns. The concept remains the same, so give it a go! Here’s a super short tutorial to get you started.
Visit the king in the Vietnamese jungle
It’s no surprise that the first genre to come to mind when thinking about Vietnam films would primarily be war movies. A number of well-known Hollywood movies focus on the Vietnam war. Titles such as ‘Platoon’, ‘Full Metal Jacket’, ‘We Were Soldiers’ and ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ to name a few. However, none of these would be my first recommendation. You may be familiar with a certain abnormally large ape?
Kong: Skull Island, released in 2017, is a movie rebooting the King Kong franchise. It focuses on a crew of soldiers and explorers that venture to Skull Island. They find some huge scary monsters await them! From that point, it’s a survival style movie for our heroes. Starring actors such as Tom Hiddleston, Sam Jackson, Brie Larson and John C. Reilly, the movie doesn’t lack in big names. The special effects are good, the action is intense and shot well.
‘But how the hell does this relate to Vietnam!?’, I hear you yelling at your screen. Calm down okay! There’s no need for that… Jheese! See, Vietnam is home to some of the most impressive and dramatic landscapes in the world. Certainly some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. So beautiful in fact, that Kong: Skull Island was actually filmed predominantly in Vietnam. Halong Bay and Ninh Binh to be precise.
The jungle-topped limestone cliffs provided a fantastic setting to base the movie! The scenes filmed over water were filmed in Halong Bay, helicopters and whatnot. Scenes shot on land, wading through sludgy mud for example or running for your life from a huge lizard were filmed in Ninh Binh! Just add a huge CGI ape, some Sam Jackson one-liners and bang; there’s your Hollywood movie! Check it out to see some of Vietnam’s best landscapes on the big screen. Or if you’re watching on your phone, the small screen will do just fine too.
A super short history lesson
You’ve probably heard a little bit about the Vietnam war. It’s a pretty messy history. Featuring the collapse of a colony, a civil war, the great communism vs. capitalism conflict, and a 250km network of tunnels, the Vietnam war is something you should learn at least a little bit about before visiting.
While the main countries to feature in the war were the USA and Vietnam, it was truly a worldwide event. Since broadcasting was more of a common thing at this time, people saw the war covered a lot on their TV screens in their living rooms. Protests against the American’s involvement took place all over the world. The war had a huge impact on Southeast Asia. Obviously mainly in Vietnam, but also in Cambodia and Laos too!
It’s a fascinating history to learn about. If you want to dive into it, here’s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2IcmLkuhG0(shock) a YouTube video to get you started! If you want to really get into the finer details, there’s a whole Netflix documentary about it. It’s 10 parts long, each episode at least an hour in length. Just some light watching…
Sing your heart out with some Vietnamese Karaoke
The Vietnamese love karaoke… And I mean, they LOVE it. Many Vietnamese families will have a huge speaker with a Bluetooth microphone connected to it. Whether it’s a big event including the whole family like a wedding or birthday, or even if it’s just a Friday night down at Mr. Hai’s house, they love to put their favourite Vietnamese ballad on and just let it rip!
Sometimes in rural areas in Vietnam, there may be very little for the locals to do to pass the time. In more basic areas such as the Mekong delta, you can often hear music blasting and a Vietnamese man/woman singing their heart out to whoever will listen! You may not understand what they’re singing, but you’ll feel the emotion of it for sure.
If you make it out to Vietnam, be sure to listen out for it. Until then, why not get the music blasting in your bedroom/living room/kitchen and belt it out with some of your favourite songs! I know many of the Vietnam Intro leaders love to do a bit of Karaoke on their tours, so perhaps some practice ahead of time would give your performance that cutting edge!
That concludes our little virtual trip to Vietnam. If it happens to have given you a thirst for more things Vietnam, you should definitely check out our Vietnam group tours. You can walk through the chaotic capital city of Hanoi, kayak in the beautiful and mind-blowing Halong Bay, cycle through the rural and untouched Ninh Binh. As well as visit one of the best cities in the world Hoi An, and seeing the authentic and mysterious Mekong delta. When the travel world is back, make sure Vietnam is at the top of your list!
Enjoy, and stay safe legends.