I was picked up by Tien at a reasonable morning hour, and scootered to Blue Butterfly restaurant for a Vietnamese cooking class.
First on the agenda was to go to the market to look and choose ingredients. I wish I had this choice every time I cooked! Maybe except for the frogs - they were freaky.
And of course there were the most wonderful people to look at.
What a sweetie!
This is Tien. He is a fabulously sweet guy, and a great teacher. I learned a few tricks of the trade and made a ginormous three course lunch that was a struggle to finish. Carrot and papaya salad, spring rolls and chicken and lemongrass stirfry.
After my class, I made my mission for the afternoon to cycle around the city. But by a lovely twist of fate, I ran into Tien and he invited me to come and meet his family. My mission abandoned for something much better, I jump back on his scooter and we drove for about 30 minutes outside of the Old Quarter.
When we turned up on his doorstep, I was greeted by this gorgeous little thing, Tien's daughter Thu.
And here is Tien's mother who lives with he and his wife, in a very modest home covered in pictures and learning posters for Thu.
I was pretty much trying not to cry with happiness the whole time, it was so amazing to be able to spend time with this lovely family. Tien works ALL THE TIME, with one day off a month and he still finds time to study English and take care of this family. They all just went about their daily activities and I followed with my camera.
Thu's bath was made with a strained type of fruit. It's like a really bitter green melon. Thu was loving it.
Tien's wife came home (she is also a chef, they met at cooking school) and starting preparing a delicious meal for us in their simple outdoor kitchen.
I then got to meet a few members of Tien's very tight community, they just wandered in and out of each others homes, sharing resources, drinking tea and shooting the breeze.
Isn't Tien's mother just beautiful?
Thu peeled me about 100 lychees. Delicious!
And I think she was just a bit worn out by the time dinner was served.
We had squid, pork and delicious vegetables. I felt so, so super lucky to have dinner with this lovely family. I almost fell over when I found out they were the same age as Stu and I!
After dinner, we scootered back into the Old Quarter and Tien went back to work at the restaurant. I went to sleep extremely happy and grateful that I was taken in and treated so well by Tien and his family - for no other reason than kindness.
One thing I definitely know about Vietnam is that I have only seen a tiny centimetre of what it has to offer. I have to go back soon! When I paid my hotel bill, it was $300US for EVERYTHING - just incredible! (It really grinds my gears seeing tourists bargaining over a dollar or two, it's so so cheap for us and that money means a lot more to the people we are giving it to.)
Anyway, my time with Tien's family was definitely the most special, Ha Long Bay was lovely, the food was freaking delicious, as was the coffee. I loved being on my own, having no one to rely on and taking everything in on my own time. Ha Noi love.