Post-Netherlands Backpacking Trip

Finding friendship in a sandwich

My visit to Nha Trang, Vietnam was a lovely one. Though it was rainy most of the time, it didn’t even slightly dampen my mood.

I was excited to visit the beach again (I pretty much have the same reaction every time).

I made some new friends.

I met Thao and Truong for dinner and drinks in the center.

I met Thao and Truong for dinner and drinks in the center.

Bits (right) was my wonderful host in Nha Trang; Simon (front) is one of his roommates.

Bits (right) was my wonderful host in Nha Trang; Simon (front) is one of his roommates.
Not pictured: the amazing Vika and Natalie, who made delicious Ukrainian food.

I was momentarily transported to another country.

Nha Trang is evidently a hub for Russian tourism.
In a karaoke bar one night, Natalie told me, “You are now in Russia.”

And after doing some research on happycow.net (the best site for finding vegetarian/vegan options worldwide), I couldn’t wait to try some of their suggestions. Usually HappyCow directs me solely to restaurants, but this time I also found a street cart specializing in a vegetarian bánh mì.

The bánh mì is a remnant of French colonial days: a fresh baguette with various fillings. Though the term ‘bánh mì’ actually refers to the bread, it is also frequently used to describe the sandwich.

I love street food. I love sandwiches. AND IT WAS VEGETARIAN — this fact made all the more special after a quick Wikipedia browse: “In Vietnam, vegetarian sandwiches are rarely found on the streets. They are usually made at Buddhist temples during special religious events.” To say I was excited is a severe understatement.

When I found the cart, I was giddy with joy. I asked if I could take pictures, and proceeded to do so unabashedly.

bánh mì chay = vegetarian Vietnamese sandwich

bánh mì chay = vegetarian Vietnamese sandwich

The next day, I returned for another.

Best part? They’re only 50 cents. Folks, this is what I call a win.

The best part? They’re only 50 cents. Folks, this is what I call a win.

As I headed to my bus for Ho Chi Minh City, I knew I had to visit once more. She saw me approach with my two backpacks and asked “You going to Saigon?”

I nodded woefully. Knowing it was my last visit, I made it count — I ordered two sandwiches. She gave me a quick smile, pulled out a tiny stool for me to sit on, and got to work.

I sat there in awe of how special my life is. I visited her three times, purchasing a total of four sandwiches (this should surprise no one). That sustained interaction allowed us to develop a rapport. I noticed the extra care she took with making the sandwiches on the second and third visit. And as she handed the food to me on that last occasion, she said “You come back next year.”

These small moments of connection are among the most memorable from my travels. They speak volumes to the human condition, of how easy it is for people to find common ground.

Needless to say, I highly recommend ordering a bánh mì chay if you’re ever in Nha Trang.  Her cart is located on Hung Vuong Street, across from the Mai Huy Hotel.

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2 thoughts on “Finding friendship in a sandwich

  1. Pingback: Day 3: Travel Style | Wander. Learn. Repeat.

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