Travel: Good morning, Vietnam

Noodles, stew, rice: in Vietnam, your first meal of the day is a feast that will take you through to sunset.

IT'S NOT that you can't get bread, eggs and honey for breakfast in Vietnam. The French have evidently left the recipe for bread rolls behind them: fresh, crusty, and much better than those on the shelves of the average British supermarket.

But you will find that in Vietnam, breakfast is not a snatched affair eaten with one hand while getting the kids ready for school or flicking through the paper. It is at least as important as any other meal, and often not much different.

Why should noodles, rice or stew be eaten only in the afternoon or evening? Or, for that matter, rice pancakes filled with meat and beansprouts?

If you're going out to work all day in the fields - or take on an exhausting day's sightseeing - doesn't a hearty soup of sweet potatoes, carrots and meat make sense? And the bread dunks very well.

Breakfast in Vietnam is often a communal affair, eaten on the pavement, or in the market, the participants sitting around a cauldron. Look around and see where the locals are eating, but don't ask too many questions. You know those colourful jars you see at the snake market...? And isn't there one less dog around here this morning?

In most tourist areas, though, you'll find some sort of English menu. Most make good reading. "Nood chicken soup", perhaps? Or "Cooked chick by pour down with boiling fat" (just in case you wanted the recipe)? If you're fed up with chicken, you can always go for "Soicy and sour eel soup in hot pot", or "Combination noodle with many ingredients" (though nobody seemed to know what these were).

And then there's always the yoghurt - but check first it isn't frozen: one memorable breakfast was attempted (I won't say eaten) in a small cafe where I made a bad job of chipping away at the solid contents of a small carton.

Every time I succeeded in hacking a piece off, it would fly across the table and hit an insect on the wall (of which there were many).

Getting nowhere, I left, somewhat embarrassed by the additions I had made to the decor.

Yet despite the less-than-appetising menus, in the main tourist areas the food is often delicious and, in some cases, an absolute feast.

I have to admit to sticking mainly to "safe" food (ie boiled, or cooked at high temperatures) and I remained well throughout my trip.

It was well after a breakfast at Heathrow's National Express cafe, waiting for the bus home, that I became mysteriously afflicted, and suffered for the next four days. Maybe I should have stuck to the noodles.

To the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, the main airlines are Air France and Aeroflot. The latter is likely to be the cheapest, with discount fares through agents such as IMS Travel (0171-224 4678) of around pounds 500 return

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

Arts and Entertainment
Bono throws water at the crowd while the Edge watches as they perform in the band's first concert of their new world tour in Vancouver

MusicThey're running their own restaurants

Voices
The main entrance to the BBC headquarters in London
TV & Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food