Haiphong sits about 60 miles east and a little south of Hanoi. It’s a lovely little place with lots of hustle and bustle during the peak hours but trickling down to a treacle like pace on Sundays and early afternoon.
As mentioned in my previous post it has this wonderfully bizarre architecture that seems so out of place given its location. These lovely tall and slender buildings with beautiful windows. A lot of this comes from influences during Chinese and French occupation of Vietnam. Along with this architectural influence the west has also had an impact on a religious scale. During the 17th century French missionaries converted many citizens to catholicism. This is evident through the abundant churches found throughout Haiphong, as well as other Vietnamese cities. During all this, the same missionaries also created an alphabet for the Vietnamese language consisting of latin characters with a variety of accents. All this really lends a unique atmosphere to the city and can sometimes encourage you to forget that you’re actually in South East Asia. Until you get to the street food that is!
As with lots of eastern countries rice is the backbone of their culinary exploits and the constantly changing and inventive ways of using it never ceases to surprise me. Ground into flour to create an incredibly glutinous structure with a chewy, stretchy consistency housing various meat, sweet and vegetarian fillings.
The streets are littered with people trying to get you to sample there wares. The bánh rán can be found in any street side vendor and are little fried dough boughs, covered in sesame seeds and filled with a mung bean paste, it reminds me of the dousha bao found in China. There’s plenty on offer in terms of offal and other peculiarities such as the infamous Balut, or fertilized duck egg. I must say I wasn’t brave enough to try many of these things and probably won’t be adventurous enough to try other oddities that will arise in my travels, such as deep fried tarantulas in Cambodia.
Keeping it short as I will be posting about Cat Ba, Halong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and a variety of other things in the coming week hopefully and I wouldn’t want to overburden y’all!