Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My hideaway in Saigon's summer heat

Over the past few weeks, the heat in Saigon is getting unbearable, the temperature reaches 37-38oC, TV keeps warning "don't let your children going out between 11am-3pm", and people start complaining - "freaking hot", "I'm dying of heat in Saigon". I'm seeking a cooler place at my swimming pool, but it's no longer a rescue or even a pleasure when the pool water is also heating up. Then my friends suggest to run away from Saigon, riding on bicycle, early in the morning, to Can Gio, our hideaway, where is full of the green and the waters.

             The ride on bicycle took 2 and half hours from Saigon to our "hideaway" in Cần Giờ. 

We always stop over, on the way to Cần Giờ, in a small family restaurant called "Ut Thao", by somehow it became our favorite gathering place in this unique district of Saigon. A simple countryside eatery with many hammocks where you can have a quick nap, they serve beef noodles for morning, family meal for lunch and if we order in advance, the owner can even prepare some delicacies.

                 Instead of chairs, hammocks - the favorite furniture in countryside stop-over. 

What could be Can Gio's delicacies? I have no exact clue but oyster, dried catfish (khô cá dứa - it's a kind of fish, very close to catfish, I was told it's very good having it with rice), water coconut, fermented shrimp...seems very popular here in this rural area.
This time we have two new senior members in our team, both in their 60s but looks strong, lively, one of them has even traveled alone on bicycle from Saigon up to very North of Vietnam few months just 45 days, incredibly amazing. Listening to his stories about the magnificent landscape in the North and along the famous Ho Chi Minh trail, how much we wish to do the same thing one day.

                 Grilled muscovy duck meat with okra, here duck has no fat at all, under their skin. 

Ok, back to what we always do at "Ut Thao", my friend has ordered in advance so when we arrived, it took us just half an hour to wait to be served. Lot of good foods.

                Muscovy duck cooked with lemon grass, served with veggies and noodles.

                Luffa, malabar spinach, garlic chives...served with muscovy duck cooked with lemon grass.

                    Here people seems prefer instant noodles than yellow egg noodles or rice noodles ? 

                   A bowl of muscovy duck cooked in lemon grass soup, mixed with veggie and noodles. 

                       Grilled oyster, topped with roasted peanut, greased onion - speciality from Cần Giờ 

                    In Can Gio they even have a lot of oyster farms, we passed by one day.  

                      Oyster porridge, one of the best porridges I have ever tried.

Goodbye to our new members, after listening his stories during his travel along Vietnam, I realized so many places in Vietnam I never visit, so many things I never see here, so many dishes I never have a chance to taste, I just wonder when will I do it ? People keep saying "Life is too short, do what you really want", when I was younger, in my late 20s or early 30s, it seemed that I could make a quick decision, but getting older...I always hesitate, because I'm wiser or because I have less confidence? I think the latter! Too bad!

By the way, Ut Thao is really good eatery, fresh, good price, so if you have a chance to visit Can Gio, please come here to enjoy good food, but the best is to call in advance to order. Here is the number of the owner, she is very friendly: Mrs Hieu 0909811298.

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