I want to bottle this moment. I’m sitting on the white blanket that covers our bed here in Hue, Vietnam. It’s a warm day and the curtains are dancing around in a breeze that smells like sunshine and garlic. I can hear boys chatting in the lane out front, the warbling Vietnamese music from the cafe next door and the sounds of hammers from the construction site down the alley. Andy is napping next to me. I’ve got a cold Coca Light in the fridge.
When our year of travel is over, when we zip up our bulging suitcase and get on a flight home to Sydney, these are the moments that will stay with me. Not the scorching hot days wandering around temples or the 45 bug bites on my feet and ankles. These quiet moments of contemplation, of peace and simple pleasures are what I will look back on… and what I’ll miss.
It’s beginning to look like our time on the road will be drawing to an end soon. We were really hoping to travel for a whole year, but we’ve had a few offers that we can’t refuse. Some exciting prospects have popped up and we’re thinking that 9 months might have to be good enough.
And that’s ok. Because, once you’ve traveled like this, you never really leave the road. You incorporate pieces of your travel experiences into your life. We’ll be returning with memories of moments, new bits of art and photography to hang on the walls and new recipes to try.
Don’t you love doing that? Coming home from your travels and recreating some of the wonderful meals you had on the road? I like to make it a whole themed meal… serving the same drinks that we had, playing some music that we heard and cooking a dinner to remind us of those carefree holidays, those days when our biggest decision was whether to have an orange-papaya juice or a passionfruit-pineapple juice with our mango and prawn salads at lunch.
So, once we’ve settled back into life in Sydney, I’ll be whipping up this recipe for Vietnamese chicken salad. It’s an old favourite and the bright, tangy flavours will remind us of the hours we spent eating our way around this amazing country. And maybe, for the length of a dinner, I will be right back where I am now.
Vietnamese chicken salad
2 small, cooked chicken breasts, shredded- or you can use the meat from a roasted chicken
1/2 cucumber, cut into thin ribbons
1 carrot, cut into long thin slices
several handfuls of torn lettuce leaves
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 large handful of coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
1 red chili, thinly sliced
the juice of 3 limes
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs soft brown sugar
2 tbs roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
Combine all the chicken with the cucumber, carrots, lettuce, spring onions, coriander and chilli in a large bowl.
In a jar with a lid, combine the lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar. Shake the jar well for 20-30 seconds.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Serve sprinkled with the roasted peanuts.