On random streets in Ho Chi Minh City, sticky rice vendors create a sweet coconut scent that you catch wafts of as you pass by. Many times before knowing what it was, I said to my husband, “I love that scent of coconut!”, “Let’s stop”…
Finally, one day when we were cruising the inner streets of HCMC, we passed by another sticky rice vendor and as I pleaded to stop, we stopped. My husband asked what I’d like, and I said one of every colour.
The sticky, moist and beautifully fragrant coconut rice was everything I thought it would be. The vendors turned out to be a lovely couple. The next time we saw them when we were out and about, we stopped again so I could get my fill of this sweet and delicious snack. By that time we’d formed a connection with the couple, and they even spotted us one day as we passed by in a taxi. Each time we saw them they were on a different street.
Our trips to Viet Nam are fleeting – just a few weeks a year. When we return to Viet Nam we visit our favourite street vendors, who’ve been on our minds often, as we reminisce from New Zealand about our daily, street-food filled routine in HCMC. Some vendors stay ever popular and never do anything to change, as if not to jinx their good fortune. Others rennovate and grow in scale, and others we can’t find. Sadly, the latter is the case of our favourite sticky rice vendors.
Of all the millions of people in HCMC, we feel connected with the lovely people on the streets from whom we love to buy food. They all remember us and many talk as if it was just yesterday that we saw them, asking about our family and life back in New Zealand.