Saigon’s best coffee, Bolaven

My Manfrotto tripod loses its space in the backpack, so I decide to courier it back to my home in New Zealand. Pop  again  into the general post office to fulfill the work the building was built for. At 575,000 dong, the tripod can get a ride home. This includes the packaging.

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Outside square is always busy with tourists taking pictures of the Notre-Dame.

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Down to Dong-Khoi street packs modern cafes, galleries and upmarket hotels.

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A cafe restaurant frequented by expats and office workers is Loft cafe that is the only one proper restaurant I try in Vietnam.(I mean sitting inside cozy with air conditioning)

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I didn’t come to Vietnam to eat salad and smoothy but this cafe is famous for these. I give it a go.

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Vietnamese coffee, cafe phin, is unique Robusta based coffee that can be mixed with condensed milk, but not the best coffee so to speak.

Here I find a shop specializing Pakse(Lao’s southern highland) origin, Bolaven plateau coffee, the farm to cup outlet.

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Farm to cup coffee, adequately named shop, as the owner has a 100 hectares of coffee farm in Bolaven and the bean are all single origin, no mixup with cheap beans.

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Sorry Vietnam, you win for quantity but not quality, Lao’s coffee holds my breath for a second. So good, deep, fruity, bold and aromatic. Best coffee ever in this country. I end up giving a hand to this green bean separation work.  The owner packs a 250g of the green bean for me for free, and we exchange contact details for future trade.

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All of sudden I am at the gate to the Saigon’s Zoo and botanical garden. Entrance fee of 50,000 dong doesn’t look right for this dire state of the things.

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But surprisingly I meet a Vietnamese lady who married to a Korean man, and now living in the city where I was born. She speaks fluent Korean.

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The Vietnamese arborists keep all the trees with numbers on it, so if something needs to be done on a tree, you can get to the right tree.

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The croc seems to have eaten too much meat. Anyone lost your kid?

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Not bad for a tree shaping skill. I think I can do better than this.

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Adjacent to the Zoo connects to  the History museum, not worth visiting but the inner court yard in the museum is quite inviting and charming.

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Even the canons make a good addition to this Zen garden.

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Anything is not complete without the conical hat and Ao-Dai in Vietnam.

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Best part of Saigon sightseeing could be jumping on a back of motor cycle taxi( Xe-Om). I take a Xe-Om from the Zoo to the local market Cholon for 40,000 dong. It was hair-raising experience. Observing how the driver zigzags the little gap between the waves of motor bikes is an art that can cost your life.

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I am in Cholon market (literally big market), a trace of Chinese herb trade and a cheap local stuff is here. Price stays at the local level.

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Running into the 007 cafe to do my secret mission which requires a toilet paper.

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Ban-Mi is a southern street food costing only 10,000 dong( US 50 cents). It is a simply baguette sandwich filled with vegies, meat, herb or all. Well, You can stick to  this all day and stay really cheap and healthy. Marvelous Vietnam’s street invention. Saigon is mecca for Ban-Mi, a place of origin.

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Before taking a long distance bus, I always pack three or four Ban-Mis, a perfect lunch and dinner, always taste better than my mum’s Sushi pack.

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When lingering around the market, my happiness level goes up, but none of these scales can weigh the vibe of this market.

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Keeping the meal three times a day is the hardest thing in Vietnam, again giving up to the sticky rice baked in banana leaves.

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Holy coconut and sticky rice.

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Turning the corner an old man cooks a stir-fried vegie and rice with hot sauce only for 20,000 dong. Can’t resist.

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I love Saigon and it’s street food. Can someone stop me from buying food on every other stalls?

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