Wednesday September 28 ’16
When Anna, our Vietnam expert, master chef, sketcher and director on our Vietnam Sketch Holidays, suggested day sketching trips to foodie heavens – we thought about it for 10 seconds and said ‘Let’s do it .’ So to kick start this series four of us made an early start to be at the Cabramatta Freedom Plaza temple gate, and wait by the water buffalo.
Public transport seemed the obvious transport solution. First the bus, then the train on platform 5, Wynyard. We were so excited by looking out the windows at all the different suburbs we passed, no sketching took place. We had done a few while sitting on the seat as the trains passed. Oops was that ours? No yours comes in 8 minutes says Tom from Customer Service. I sketched him waving flags as trains roared in and departed.
Ah there she is. Anna was waiting with that lovely big excited smile. This is her heaven. Thank goodness we were with her. Wherever would one start. You’d swear you were in Saigon, though with fewer cars and very few motor cycles. Anna gave us some advice on getting through crowds. Practice for next year. Push on, don’t stop. Ok. Easier said than done.
First we decided coffee was essential. So round this corner down that alleyway, across a lane and there we were at the perfect place. Cafe Xua. Three iced Saigon coffees and one citrus juice please. Anna had purchased some Vietnamese doughnuts to have with our drinks. Iced Jasmine tea seemed to come anyway. They don’t serve food in cafes.Just drinks. A good sketching opportunity. All of us scribble away while we finish our drinks.
Off we go following our fearless leader. We’re interested in exploring street food. Cuisine of the people. Past vegetable shops, fish markets, cake shops, fruit shops and into Eastland Supermarket which seemed to have everything. From dinnerware, spices, noodles, in fact shelves and shelves of so many products we haven’t seen before. At the vegetable chiller among the ones we knew were varieties we were not at all familiar with. Fascinating. So many isles of interesting things and we couldn’t stop looking. A sketching chance.
A little stop off was required to taste a soup like dish with side serving of freshly picked herbs and lettuce called Bun Bo Hue. Everything must be fresh. Always. Yum. Just delicious. Another sketch.
More exploring. Locals seem very clear on what they’re buying and the choices seemed endless. So much colour everywhere. Surely we are in Vietnam. Everyone hurrying purposefully about purchasing ingredients for the next meal. No bilk shopping here. It’s a daily event.
Finally as we were getting a little weary it was time to go to our lunch venue. Dong Xanh Restaurant. It looked quite traditional but had quite a buzz. Excellent choice Anna.
We left the menu to Anna to choose. She knew just what we would have. She’d tried this dish elsewhere but this was the winner. Another sketch moment. Plates arrived and Anna gave us guidance on how to eat the different dishes and what went with what. Soooo delicious.
What a day. We were feeling a delighted with the wonderful experience we’d had. Time to complete our sketches, pack up and get back to the station for our sleepy journey home. Loved it all. Plus my box of pretty Saigon cakes.
Next month we will have another Food&Sketch Day Trip.