Day Tripping to Epping

These hills that greet visitors on Melbourne’s northern approaches once were dotted with sheep and rocks. Now they are blanketed with houses and huge shopping centres.

For lunch, a taste of Japanese tonkatsu at Plenty Valley.

Not fancy, just crumbed pork with udon noodles, vege and egg in a curry, heated by a cute, gimmicky blue gel tealight.

A filling lunch for $16.80 at Fukutontei.

Open letter to UK travellers

Dear UK travellers,

Please visit Australia. We are a friendly bunch, with a continent full of unique wonders, and you get an embarrassingly fabulous exchange rate on your money.
Contrary to our Govt’s silly marketing, most Australians do not have “plastic” faces with collagen lips and botox smiles, but do expect a laugh and a cheeky grin under a layer of sunscreen.
Please also bring any mates who don’t speak English – modern Australia was made by millions of migrants from across the world, and an ancient Indigenous culture. Besides, interpreters can be handy as many of the most popular dishes in our world array of eateries have foreign names.
You won’t miss out on your favorite British breakfast tea but be prepared for arguably the best barista coffee outside of the Mediterranean.
Oh, do you like good wine and cold beer?

Yours sincerely,

Australia

The taste test: pass with distinction

Does this look good to you? It sure tastes good to me.

See the bowl of sweet chilli dipping sauce? It packs a tickle more than a punch, but the red/orange chilli bits can be little “Smokin’ Joe Fraziers”, and best treated with respect.

The pork chops are thin, juicy, almost boneless and grilled with a salty/sweet marinade (brown sugar and fish sauce?).

The SE Asian egg is full of taste (think of Australian fresh farm eggs pre-1980s) and, mixed with the steamed rice, is a meal in itself.

Cucumber and tomato (yes, again with flavor) are the healthy bits.

Good lunch for USD2.15/AUD3.15.
– Vung Tau, Vietnam, 2019

Sea Mantis Shrimp if it’s still kicking, it’s fresh

Mantis shrimp/sea mantis are a popular Vietnamese seafood.

Locals call them tôm tít.

There’s not a lot of meat in them but they are a cheap-ish treat, and usually barbecued, steamed, or pan fried in coconut oil.

I don’t recomment the fried version as I find the oil too sweet, and extracting the meat is a hot, messy, oily affair.

But don’t let me stop you – give them a crack …

 

Choice: In with the new while keeping the old

A view to the future: Ibis will be a perfect fit for the foreshore at Vung Tau, Vietnam.

The popular weekend escape for Ho Chi Minh City’s populace, Vung Tau is balancing the accomm options with new, proportionate hi-rises while keeping the multitude of traditional nhà nghì “motel” guesthouses. Choice.

This “Ibis Suites” Hotel on the “back beach” is having the finishing touches and will soon open. (The security guard came over and went crook at me for taking this pic – all the while he was smiling, as they do. Haha.)

Vung Tau is so do-able…

Easy to Digest

Growing up, my brother and I often sought refuge in Readers’ Digest books.

I’ve found a hard cover classic here – add tropical weather and a big, frosty glass of freshly squeezed watermelon … who’s in a hurry to go back to the political morass of Australia? 🤠

– Vung Tau, Vietnam 

 

It’s all about the salad. And the pork. And the rice …

You don’t like eating vegies? Then come to South-East Asia: the salads are so good, sometimes I could treat the meat as the garnish. Not this time – I last recall eating pork this tender in Argentina. Oh, and at the Sofitel Wanda Hotel, Beijing. This lunch is charsui Hoi An pork with firewood cooked rice. (I don’t know what firewood does to steamed rice, but the menu says it’s “traditional”. It’s tasty.) USD$1.95, Câm An (a little, street corner eatery known for chicken), Vung Tau, Vietnam