December 16, 2016

Plus 1 trip to Vietnam day 1 - long journey for Princess

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After getting four hours of sleep after our evening of live wild-caught Atlantic lobsters washed down with Champagne and sake, our alarm clocks went off shortly after 5 a.m.  We were taking a morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City, as I accompanied Hello Kitty once again on a work trip - this time to check out a beachfront resort at management's invitation.

After an hour's delay, we landed in Ho Chi Minh City and were picked up by Be from Princess D'Ân Nam Resort and Spa.  We'd been told that the travel time to the resort would be roughly 3½ hours, but the four of us were pretty comfortable in the minivan from the hotel.  The best thing?  After failing to rent a wifi router from one of the telecom providers at the airport, we were relieved to find wifi in our minivan.  The long journey suddenly became less tedious.  So thankful for small mercies...

A few of us got a little hungry at the start of the ride - as it had been a few hours since our breakfasts at the airport lounge - so Hello Kitty whipped out the lobster rolls that she had prepared using our shipment of live wild Atlantic lobsters.  Now THAT's what I call a sandwich!

About halfway through our journey, we came to a rest stop so that we could have some lunch.  Quán Com Lê Hoàng is a simple place, and everyone orders a bowl of phở.

Wanting to be a little different everyone else, I decided to order pork phở .  The slices of pork were overcooked and a little tough, and the broth tasted so sweet that I was sure a lot of nước mắm has been added.  Not the best phở I've had, but I didn't have any expectations.  A glass of cà phê sữa đá was sure to be the first of many Vietnamese coffees I would have on this trip.

Thanks to our lunch stop, we finally arrived at the resort about 4½ hours after leaving the airport.  We received a warm greeting from Michael, the new manager of the resort, and we led quickly through the grounds to our accommodations.  Hello Kitty and I were given one of the Princess Villas, which included an outdoor plunge pool with a deck, as well as an open air bath tub.

We agreed to meet Michael at the restaurant at 6 p.m., which happened to be a little less than half an hour after sunset.  The lights were already on in and around the pool, but there was still just a faintest glow of twilight in the horizon.  The visuals were stunning.  There was no doubt in my mind that we were in for a relaxing weekend by the ocean.

Since we're at a beach resort, and I'm the guy with a fondness for girlie drinks, what better way to kick off the weekend than starting with a Blue Hawaiian?!

We sat down to dinner, and I decided to go à la carte.

Our amuse bouche was a cup of tomato and watermelon soup.

Bò cuốn lá lốt nướng, sốt hành hoa - the beef "lá lốt" was minced beef wrapped in betel nut leaves, but I didn't expect the leaves to be cooked, too... Kinda reminds me a little of Greek dolmades, but with beef.  Plenty of the usual herb condiments and a couple of lettuce leaves.  The cold rice flour noodles helped balance the dish, and very tasty once you added some "Vietnamese dressing".  I especially liked the fragrance from the betel nut leaves.

Đùi gà kho sả, ớt, phục vụ với cơm hấp - this was pretty tasty, too!  The simmered free range chicken was cooked with lemongrass, chili, and onions.  It came served with some sautéed water spinach with garlic, and steamed rice. The chicken was very tender, and the flavors worked very well together.

I also pinched a little bit of each dish from the daily special set menu that Hello Kitty was sharing with someone else in our group.

Gỏi cá mai Phan Thiết - the anchovies salad from the nearby town of Phan Thiết was pretty tasty, with spicy, sweet, savory, and acidic flavors all coming together - right up Hello Kitty's alley.  Served with thin sesame wafers.

Canh chua cá bớp - the cobia fish appears to be a local specialty.  The soup was, not surprisingly, hot and sour... with tomatoes, taro stem, okra, and other herbs and spices.  And of course chili, which I accidentally bit into without looking...

Sườn heo kho tộ - these stewed pork ribs were pretty nice.

Gà xào ngũ sắc - the chicken with five colors (white, green, yellow, red, and black) signify the five different elements of metal, wood, earth, fire, and water.  This was OK.

Rau muống xào tỏi - sautéed water spinach with garlic.

Michael had told us about the homemade ice cream they recently started making, so of course I had to take a look at the ice cream menu.

Rum 'n' raisin, with dark Jamaican rum soaked raisins - this was really awesome.  The raisins were soaked in Captain Morgan, and they were sooo tasty.

Shredded coconut with pineapple and Bacardi rum - pretty decent, with frozen cubes of pineapple.

We had a very enjoyable and tasty dinner, with views of the ocean and the sounds of the surf coming in.  Wonderful end to a very long day...

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