A Travellerspoint blog

July 2011

Laos/Vietnam/Malaysia Beer Roundup

Given the high temperatures during our trip, beer ended up playing a pretty important role, and with the variety we encountered (and naturally sampled), we thought it deserved a standalone post and would be fitting closure for this round.

While we unfortunately lack tasting notes for each one, we can safely say that there was a fairly wide quality range. Local brews, especially in Vietnam (where each city seems to boast at least one), unfortunately failed to win us over. Even in a landscape of other pale lagers, they came across watered down and lacking depth, though Huda (from Hue) and Larue (from Hoi An) were better than the rest. Beerlao was another notable exception and a justifiable source of national pride (apparently commanding a 99% of the home market). This might be down to their German-trained female brewmaster Sivilay Lasachack.

Otherwise, the imports took the day, especially one American lager that we came across in Saigon. Without further adieu, here's the brews in order of appearance. Thanks for reading and happy travels!

Halida__VN_.jpgThe only local brew we could actually find on draught
San_Miguel__VN_.jpgWe noticed a strong push for San Miguel, leaning heavily on their Hong Kong/Macao heritage to take on Tiger in the region
333__VN_.jpgSeemingly the only national Vietnamese beer
Anchor__MY_.jpgInteresting... a local beer in a Muslim state

Posted by jkirsch 19:36 Comments (0)

KL // Local Style

Kuala Lumpur

sunny 90 °F
View Laos/Vietnam, June 2011 on jkirsch's travel map.

Our travels already feel far behind us as we're at last settled in St. Louis and I've even started work, but what better way to keep that holiday feeling going that with a couple final posts.

We capped off our travels with a great couple of days in Kuala Lumpur. While it may not seem like a natural stop on the way home from Vietnam, it was the best option for using miles (thus free tickets) and gave us a great chance to visit the city and some friends there. We ended up having a great time, especially thanks to our wonderful tour guide and friend Hooi Ling. Going in, we'd expected something like Singapore, but found KL to be much more authentic and diverse with arguably better food to beat!

Petronas.jpgPetronas Towers from the Skybar at the Traders

According to Ling, food is especially important in Malaysian culture, and thus food-related activities appropriately consumed roughly 50% of our time in KL (likely leaving us a little heftier on departure). On our second night, we actually had dinner at an Indian restaurant, followed by dessert at a Cantonese-style cafe, and capped off the night directly after with Malaysian specialties in a night food market, thoroughly enjoying each stop. I tried to capture some of the action in the photos below, but they still don't quite do it justice.

Food.jpgAnother successful meal
preserved_store.jpgSampling buckets of preserved "goodies" (At times a stretch of the word)
food_stalls.jpg"Western food" was a loose interpretation...Nasi_Goreng.jpgSurprisingly amazing Oxtail Nasi Goreng at Indonesian chain Es Teler 77
chestnuts.jpgRoasted nuts are universal...

We didn't just eat though, and still managed to take in some of the city's sites, including the Petronas towers (even cooler in person) and the national mosque. Escorted by Hooi Ling, we also enjoyed a fish spa and intense reflexology treatment. All-in-all, a great finish!


Posted by jkirsch 19:15 Archived in Malaysia Tagged kuala_lumpur food spa petronas_towers Comments (0)

Southern Vietnam = Food Heaven!

Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

sunny 95 °F

Wow, we are REALLLY behind in our blogging....I am actually posting this from our new apartment in St. Louis. Apologies to all those die-hard followers who must be on the edge of their seats waiting to hear about the second half of our trip. I attribute our tardiness to the fact that the trip flew by and that we had an amazing time. That, plus the heat and copious amounts of inexpensive massage made us incredibly lazy!! :)

After Hue, Jake and I made our way down the coast to Hoi An, a town about 30 minutes drive away from Danang. Hoi An was one of the highlights of our trip; although it is very touristy (much like Luang Prabang), it manages to retain a lot of charm, especially at night when most of the shops close and the streets empty out. From our three days there, it seems like Hoi An has two main attractions: (1) delicious food and (2) affordable tailoring. We took part in both.

A shot of Hoi An's scenic Old Town area.

One of Hoi An's many assembly halls, built by Chinese traders working in Hoi An. Different halls were built for each of the major ethnic groups.

Our tailor of choice was Sun Cloth Shop, which was recommended by our hotel. We got lots of great stuff made for us, for a really good price. The turnaround time is incredible - they made my dresses in about 24 hours, and Jake's shirts took only a few hours! I've never had tailor-made clothing made for me before, so the experience itself was highly worthwhile.

As far as food goes, it was hands down our best food in Vietnam. We liked the place we ate dinner the first night (Miss Ly's) so much that we went back again the second night, only to discover an even BETTER place (Morning Glory) on our last night.

Cao Lau at Ms. Ly's. Cao Lau is one of Hoi An's special dishes --- YUM!

I also had the best tuna sandwich ever at a really cute little cafe called the Dingo Deli (halfway between Hoi An and the beach) -- the perfect lunch after hanging out at the beach.

The beautiful beach in between Hoi An and Danang. Sadly, it's being madly developed by every major hotel company imaginable!

After Hoi An, we flew to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for our final days in Vietnam. It's amazing how different Saigon seems from the rest of Vietnam (in particular, from Hanoi). The central part of city feels very European - wide, tree-lined streets, manicured parks and gardens, lots of sidewalk cafes and boutiques.

Saigon's Post Office

Notre Dame Basilica in Saigon. Apparently it gets packed at mass-time! Who knew there were so many Catholics in Vietnam?

Given our short time there, we didn't have too much time to sightsee, but we managed to fit in visits to the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace, both of which were really worth seeing. The Palace especially was cool: it has basically been left untouched since the end of the war in 1975, and you get to visit the map rooms and other offices where the military was overseeing the war.

Reunification Palace, still kept as it was at the end of the war in 1975. A definite must-see.

Gastronomically speaking, the highlights of the city were a Vietnamese BBQ place called 3T Quan Nuong, conveniently located next to our favorite ice cream place (Fanny, of course). We ordered prawns that were given to us skewered but still alive, which we sadisticly enjoyed cooking and eating with this really good salt-pepper-lime mix.

Prawns at 3T Quan Nuong. Delicious.

Fanny!!! We miss you already!!!

We also encountered a very nice Budweiser sales girl who gamely agreed to take a picture with Jake. By "sales girl", I mean these women that are in alot of the bars and restaurants throughout the city. They wear a uniform promoting the beer, and visit your table and try to convince you to buy that brand. The San Miguel girls seemed to be the most pushy -- at one place, the girl wouldn't leave our table until we agreed to buy two San Miguels!! I'm glad she did though, because it was delicious and might now be one of my favorites.

Jake and the Bud girl at 3T Quan Nuong.

Sadly, our time in Vietnam had to end at some point. We had a really great time (despite the heat) and hope we can come back again at some point. Given all the compliments we've gotten on our Hoi An tailored clothes already, we'll definitely have to go back just to get more clothes made!

Stay tuned for Jake's posts on Kuala Lumpur and SE Asian beers!

Posted by nhilde 11:34 Archived in Vietnam Tagged food restaurants vietnam saigon hanoi hcmc fanny tailoring Comments (0)

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