BOLT TOP 5: Vietnamese Eats

We came for a month’s stay and are here for 6. I came with negative opinions about Vietnamese food, gratefully they have changed.

I love the freshness of Vietnamese food. Everything is full of vegetables and herbs. Many dishes come with a side plate of fresh herbs and greens. Another thing I love is that most things are served with a variety of delicious sauces.

It’s a lazy Sunday so I thought I’d share my top 5 Vietnamese meals. All of these can be made vegan, vegatarian of with seafood, poultry, beef or pork. So here’s my countdown.

5. Morning Glory!

These savory greens, also called water spinach, remind me of home cooked collards. I serve them with beans and hot water cornbread.

4. Spring Rolls!

Whether fried or fresh you can’t go wrong with spring rolls. Whenever I don’t know what to order these are always my go to.

3. Op La!

There are many varieties of this egg sandwich. I like this deconstructed version served at Rom Coffee Cafe. The eggs are served sunny side up, topped with a delicious spicy sauce. You create your own sandwich on crusty French bread with lettuce and tomato.

2. Bahn Xeo!

You can get versions of this Vietnamese savory crepe all over Da Nang. My favorite is this vegetarian version filled with mushrooms served at The End of the Beach restaurant.

1. Bun Cha!

This is a delicious and unique Vietnamese noodle dish, said to be President Barak Obama’s favorite when he visited Vietnam. It’s traditionally made with pork meatballs but I love the vegan version (below) served at one of my favorite spots, Loving Vegan.

One of the great things about travel is trying new foods. Living life without set favorites and preferences allows me to explore and enjoy new things all the time. I hope you do too!

Good Morning Vietnam!

I love mornings here in Da Nang. No matter how early I’m up there are folks up ahead of me. The markets are bustling at 6am.

The coffee shops and bahn mi stands are also up and ready for business by 6.

But the thing I love most are mornings at the beach. I went today for the 5:18 sunrise, enjoying the beauty of the path leading to our local beach.

The beach was already crowded. The sights of families swimming, elders exercising and crowds of people briskly walking bring me joy.

Perhaps this is not scientific but I think that the Vietnamese commitment to community and wellness has contributed to the low Covid numbers. As beloved and frequently used as the beaches are when ordered everyone respected the closing of the beaches and following the rules was the norm.

Kathy and I are so grateful to be in such a safe and beautiful place during these difficult times. We hold all in our prayers and meditations. We surround you all with love and light. We pray for an end to this pandemic. We pray for the dismantling of systemic racism and injustice. We trust and affirm that healing is happening and change is coming!

Please visit, like, subscribe and share Kathy’s YouTube Channel. She is offering excellent tools for dealing with these time. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGchxaPN1j9p0PjVDyu2a_A

BOLT Dong Budget

Dong is the currency here in Vietnam. We get lots of questions about the strength of the American dollar here and the cost of living. Of course, Covid 19 has affected prices, bringing them down. This post reflects our current budget for life in Da Nang.

RENT: 7 Million Vietnamese Dong ($300) for our spacious studio apartment, with rooftop pool and twice a week maid service

FOOD and SUPPLIES: 9 million VND ($386) This includes groceries, eating out and all household supplies.

ELECTRICITY AND WATER: 2 million VND ($85) we try to be mindful about our air con useage but it’s really hot right now in Da Nang. This amount includes our monthly electric and tap water bill as well as delivered drinking water.

TRANSPORTATION: 1 million VND ($43) Kathy rents a motorbike when she wants to go out for a solo ride. I prefer the local ride .service called Grab (like Uber in the states). I have a favorite driver who i call for any longer distance trips. We are fortunate that we are able to walk to the local market, etc so we rarely use all of this budget allotment.

ENTERTAINMENT: 4 Million VND ($170) There is lots to see and do here in Da Nang so we have a generous budget for sightseeing. I don’t think we have ever exceeded the 4 million.

Life is really good, affordable and easy here in Da Nang. We could never afford life in a U.S. beach city on our retirement income. We are very grateful to have landed in this safe spot during these difficult times.

Da Nang: Under Construction! Always?

Da Nang is a beautiful city and we are enjoying it. However, anyone who has spent any amount of time here will mention one drawback. There is constant noise, debris and dust from seemingly never ending construction!

Don’t get me wrong, this city has much to offer. There are pristine beaches, great tourists attractions, lovely apartments and amazing bridges.

Kathy and I were living in the An Thoung area of the city. The majority of the construction seems to be happening here. When we moved in to our apartment there was an occupied, intact building right next door. A few days later they started tearing it down. There was jackhammer, bulldozer and other construction cacaphony starting daily at 7 am!

We decided to move to a much quieter areas and are keeping our fingers crossed that no new construction begins.

Da Nang truly is a lovely city and we are grateful to be here. The truth is that cities don’t spring up by magic and I guess construction inconveniences are the price one pays.

Watch “Basic Buddhism: The Precepts: Can Buddhists Kill Insects?” on YouTube

Basic Buddhism:
Kathy Halili Akoma is an ordained Zen Buddhist Dharma teacher and priest. She answers many of your questions in her YouTube video series. Please watch, like, subscribe and share!

Change is Possible! Don’t give up hope!

Kathy and I were talking this morning about revolution in all it’s forms. We are tired and heart broken. Tired of the killing of black folks. Tired of police brutality. Tired of injustice. As I despaired over the state of the United States and what is happening there, Kathy reminded me that change does happen. As I expressed doubt that unorganized uprising can effect change she reminded me that the truth of revolution is that it is often unorganized. As I expressed anxiety that people will be hurt and die she reminded me that dying can be a revolutionary act and that dying is not the worst thing that can happen. Ultimately she reminded me of the revolutionary changes achieved as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. This post is hopefully a reminder for us all.

In March 1965 these folks braved Billy clubs, tear gas, dogs and a racist governor who empowered a racist sheriff to do anything he could think of to stop those unarmed, non-violent people from walking to the capital of Alabama for their rights. They marched for 54 miles over 5 days.

In March 2015 Kathy and I repeated that 54 mile walk. We marched with foot soldiers who had been on the original march. We marched with young people, students and families. We marched because we wanted to honor and give thanks for those original marchers and the changes they wrested from the hands of the powerful.

We marched with Ms Annie Pearl Avery. She is a life long civil rights activist. Ms Annie Pearl was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday 50 years ago. She was beaten and jailed. She didn’t let that stop her. She made the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 and she was with us every step of the 2015 march!

We met Julian Bond, who is a reminder that change can come about in many ways: political, street activism, education and more.

On the way we stopped at the memorial to Viola Liuzzo who lost her life in 1965 during the original Selma to Montgomery March. Driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was shot by members of the Ku Klux Klan. She was 39 years old.

We marched to remember, reconnect and restore. We marched because the fight for civil rights and social justice is far from over.

We made it! 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama! “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

In 2015 President Barak Obama gave a speech on the Edmund Pettis Bridge. He embraced Congressman John Lewis who was beaten on that bridge 50 years ago. Change does happen!

Don’t give up hope dear brothers and sisters. “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” -Assata Shakur