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    The art of fixing Vespa scooters is dying. This niche skill is a difficult one to master, especially with the increasing rarity of vintage Vespas. Our mechanic, Duy, has fixed over 1,000 Vespas! Check out this post for more info, and learn about how this scooter became legendary in Vietnam here.

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5 Ways to Escape the Hustle and Bustle of Ho Chi Minh City

  Yes, red lights are somewhat optional. Yes, the traffic is always buzzing. Yes, the sidewalks are constantly flooded with people. And don't worry, you will get better at crossing the street. Ho Chi Minh City is a place of organized chaos, but its chaotic nonetheless. You may need a relaxing breath of fresh air every now and again, and I've got just the options for you: 1) Taste Vietnamese Coffee in a quiet Cafe Iv'e tried a new cafe just about everyday, and each day I'm surprised to find the new cafe more relaxing than the last. Vietnam is the…
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Meet Saigon’s Oldest Public Letter Writer

You’re going to have to visit this magnificent post office to meet Mr. Duong Van Ngo, Saigon’s oldest public letter writer. I caught Mr. Duong around 3:05 PM, nearing the end of his 3:30 PM sharp work day. Although Mr. Duong had his plastic bag filled with his treasured belongings to head home, he offered me a seat, and assured me I wasn’t a bother; he wouldn’t leave a minute before 3:30 PM. Mr. Duong told me he started working at the post office when he was a mere 16 years old. Today, he is 85. Although elderly and delicate,…
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The Art of Mango Picking

Truthfully, they are laughing with me and at me.  Phi, my guide from the Hoi An tour, and I were making our way on a Vespa through the scenic countryside when we passed a group of women and children outside of their home poking a long bamboo stick with some sort of hook to pull at the mango stems so they would fall gracefully into the bed sheet. As we passed the group, Phi explained the process of mango picking, and without much though I said, “I want to try.” “You want to try?” Phi asked me.  Then he whipped…
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Rice Farming in Vietnam

  Vietnam’s countryside is filled with rice fields, and the cities with rice dishes.  Rice fuels people’s stomachs as well as the economy. Vietnam is the second largest exporter of rice in the entire world, and is the seventh biggest consumer of rice according to the International Rice Research Institute. On an average summer day, the sun is beaming and the temperature feels as though it's continuously rising, making conditions extremely harsh for these rice farmers that cover their bodies head to toe to avoid the sunlight.  Just outside of the Phan family temple, a rice farmer was kind enough…
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Start Your Morning with Morning Glory

Morning glory may be cheap in price, but it’s rich in Vietnamese food culture.  This vegetable that was once considered protein for the poor is served with most Vietnamese rice and noodle dishes.  The moist vegetable is often sautéed in garlic to give a flavorful salty taste.  It’s a Vietnamese must try, but also an inevitable try if you plan on eating local Vietnamese dishes during your visit. Morning glory is a semiaquatic plant that grows in water or damp soil and is from the same family as water spinach.  The vegetable takes little to no care to cultivate. Because…
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Welcome to the Shipyard: the Craft of Boat Building

Bring closed toed shoes and your balance if you are interested in taking the off beaten path to visit a company that builds large-scale handmade fishing boats. No, you won’t climb the boats in construction. You may, however, get to climb a wobbly wooden plank up to a fully constructed boat if there’s one docked during your visit. There are several superstitions in Vietnamese boat culture that especially restricts women from climbing or sitting on boats in construction. It is understood that should a woman sit on a boat before it is completely built, the boat will be forever cursed…
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Hoi of Hoi An: Family Temple Keeper

Meet Hoi; a man as wise as he is friendly. At 80 years old, Hoi is the full time keeper of his family’s ornate and colorful temple, or ancestral house. The Phan family temple has thrived for 15 generations, and Hoi is of the 13th.  Hoi spoke fluidly and without sadness when he told Phi, my awesome tour guide and translator, that when he passes away, this duty will be taken on by the next generation, that being his younger brother.  Hoi explained that this 200-hundred-year old temple comes alive every year on the 10th of February when the family…
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Vietnamese Rice Wine

  "Mot, Hai, Ba, Dzo!". This is the ubiquitous phrase for "1,2,3, Cheers!" in Vietnamese. If you're at a party, Vietnamese wedding, or just enjoying dinner at a local restaurant, you'll without a doubt hear this famous phrase yelled out repeatedly. While travelling in Vietnam and meeting the locals, it's often a sign of friendship when offered a small shot of rice wine. Be careful, because this stuff can be dangerously strong! Most commonly, people are yelling out their cheers and clinking together mugs of beer with ice or small glasses of Vietnamese rice wine. The latter of the two is deeply…
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Vietnamese Bird Club Culture

  Vietnamese bird club culture is one that's overlooked by travellers, but it's extremely interesting and there's more to it than just sitting and drinking coffee. While wandering around the streets of Saigon, or any town in Vietnam, you'll notice an abundance of classic bird cages with delightfully chirping birds inside. These birds are more than just pets, they're a hobby. They're a lifestyle. Every morning, bird club enthusiasts like Lam in the video above go to the park, birds in hand. These enthusiasts, typically older men, hang up their bird cages and grab a coffee. It's common for these…
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Sizzlin’ Banh Xeo – Vietnamese Pancakes

  Thuy runs our favourite Banh Xeo restaurant in Saigon. This restaurant was built in 1945 by her grandmother, who can be seen in the painting above, as a way to provide not only income but also as a way to feed her siblings who she had to take care of. Now, it’s almost unbelievable to see how this restaurant has transformed into a favourite local spot, serving around 100 Vietnamese pancakes per day. If you visit the restaurant, you’ll see Thuy taking over many responsibilities - from waitressing, being a cashier, and even cleaning up the tables. Banh Xeo, also…
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