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Authentic Vietnamese recipes from the Motherland

Hello Vietnam. Goodbye 2014.

Towards the end of 2014, my husband and I took the kids back to the Motherland. Vietnam is a beautiful country and December was the perfect month to visit. In December, you can escape both the relentless heat and torrential rain. The days were mostly cloudy, threatening to rain but rarely succeed. If anything, you get a quick down pour, and then at the snap of a finger, it's gone. The quick rain was actually very refreshing.

Family picture at Ba Ho Falls in Nha Trang

Family picture at Ba Ho Falls in Nha Trang

I love the everyday living of Vietnam. All the scenes of Vietnam were mesmerizing and engaging: the daily market visits, the wood-burning stoves, the street food vendors and the constant stream of motor bikes. Street food and market vendors were amused as I took out my camera to record and snap pictures of simple daily living. They thought this Viet Kieu, a Vietnamese living outside the country, was silly. I laughed along with them as I continued to capture memories that you don't often see in America.

Market in Bien Hoa, Vietnam

Market in Bien Hoa, Vietnam

I love the hustle and bustle of the markets in the morning. Most Vietnamese household still go to the market everyday. This ensures they get the freshest cuts of meats and produce. Lesson learned: when paying in Vietnamese currency, dong, a one-finger gesture means 10,000 dongs ($0.47), not $1,000 dongs ($0.05). I could also have easily mistakenly given 100,000 dongs ($4.68) and not even questioned it at the time. 

Grilling shrimp on charcoal stove

Grilling shrimp on charcoal stove

One of the items that I brought back to the states was one of these old school charcoal/wood burning stoves. They are made out of clay and I was relieved they survived the trip half way around the world. My mom thought it was the funniest thing when she found this primitive item in my luggage while helping me unpacked. Laugh all you want, Mom, but the best foods were cooked on these stoves. I'm hoping to grill up some meats on this bad boy soon.

Taking tour of Nha Trang via Xich Lo, Vietnamese pedicabs.

Taking tour of Nha Trang via Xich Lo, Vietnamese pedicabs.

These Vietnamese pedicabs are plenty in the tourist areas of Nha Trang. They wait right outside the hotels, and you simply raise a hand to call them over. They are a convenient way to travel short distances and a fun way to sight-see. The drivers are very friendly and can offer advice on where to go to avoid the tourist price tags.

One of the three waterfalls at Ba Ho Falls in Nha Trang

One of the three waterfalls at Ba Ho Falls in Nha Trang

With two kids in tow, we only managed to make it to the first waterfall at Ba Ho Falls in Nha Trang. With the help of a local, we assembly-lined to hoist the kids over the treacherous boulders. Without her help, we would have turned back and missed this beauty.

Beaches of Nha Trang, Vietnam

Beaches of Nha Trang, Vietnam

My daughter's Vietnamese squat. She's a natural.

My daughter's Vietnamese squat. She's a natural.

Vietnamese Banana Blossom

Vietnamese Banana Blossom

My daughter showing her sexy abs in the jungle of Vietnam (Uncle's backyard).

My daughter showing her sexy abs in the jungle of Vietnam (Uncle's backyard).

Jackfruit, Mit

Jackfruit, Mit

Vietnamese waterapples, Man

Vietnamese waterapples, Man

Picking peppers

Picking peppers

Raising chickens in the countryside.

Raising chickens in the countryside.

I love the rustic look of daily living in the countryside.

I love the rustic look of daily living in the countryside.

Old tea kettle on a wood-burning stove.

Old tea kettle on a wood-burning stove.

Beautiful green pond of lily pads

Beautiful green pond of lily pads

Cracking a fresh coconut with cleaver.

Cracking a fresh coconut with cleaver.

If you ever get a chance to visit Vietnam, make sure to try the fresh coconuts. The flavors are out of this world. The kids and I drank a lot of fresh coconuts to avoid drinking the water. The pure sweet coconut juice puts the canned version in the States to shame. 

Bountiful tamarind tree

Bountiful tamarind tree

After a memorable trip like this one, nothing beats the comfort of home. I was glad to be back on American soil only after two weeks. Quitting the 9-to-5 job and taking a trip to Vietnam ended my 2014 with a bang. Jobless and broke... here's to more adventures in 2015. Happy New Year, everyone!