Not what it seems?

One of the things I’m getting used to as a foreigner in a land where everything looks unusual – from the fruit and veg to the billboards – is things not being what they at first appear to be. How many times have I been walking past what looks like a ramshackle mishmash of cardboard, metal sheeting and wood only to catch a glimpse of someone asleep on a mattress inside? Just about every shop sign in Westlake says it is either a Bia Hoi, Ca Fe or Deli. Just how many delis and coffee shops can there possibly be!?

Deciding to test the sign the other day I walked into what claims to be a butcher but looks nothing like one from the outside. Sure enough, inside there was a very small selection of meat cuts, products, sausages and the like. And, coffee makers. Why? Who would go into a butcher to buy a coffee maker? Am I missing something or did the owner of the shop just happen to have a job lot that he wants to get rid of?

Most of the cafes look very uninspiring from the street and it’s only when you venture inside that you can see what you’re dealing with. Right next to the apartment where I’m staying there’s a really unassuming place selling copious amounts of street food with a steady stream of customers. I couldn’t work out where they were all going though and decided the cafe must actually be like the wardrobe in Narnia with a secret door at the back. And pretty much that’s right. Out the back is a small seating area with tables and the ubiquitous tiny plastic seats but what makes this special (apart from the food of course!) is that the whole of the back of the building is built on stilts!

On my walk with Sally this morning I thought I’d stop and have a cool drink but then decided that actually, this is probably someone’s home!


Posted on 03/29/2012, in Adventure, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. That’s funny because a lot of Vietnamese open up cafes or eatery areas right in their living rooms and I can see how you can make that mistake I’m curious about the treatment of your your dog in Vietnam. Do you have concerns about dognapping for food consumptions there? Excuse my ignorance.

    • Actually Joseph, Sally is treated with awe and fascination. Being a whippet/lurcher she’s a skinny little thing so I can’t imagine even a hungry man seeing her as his next meal! The dog that is eaten here is bred specially for eating apparently and a few friends have told me that they look nothing like her so not likely to be mistaken for dinner! Actually, the other day I happened to walk past a restaurant with the fresh meat on a table outside the door and commented to my husband that the goat’s head looked different to those I’d seen in Egypt – a factor I attributed to it being skinned. I then realised my mistake – it was a dog’s head. Oh boy – weak at the knees and head spinning!
      We keep being told that she’s much more at risk of being stolen because a wealthy Vietnamese will take a shine to her and order someone to pinch her and then keep her as the only one of her kind – I’ve got something you’ve not got sort of thing. That would remain true too as she’s been spayed and couldn’t produce puppies.
      Anyway, we’re really, really careful with her. Another problem we’ve been warned about is not personal to her/us – because rats are a problem here, many people poison their rubbish before putting it out. If she ate something tasty in the street it could have been poisoned and she’d die.
      Otherwise, she’s most at risk from admirers and rubber neckers 🙂

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