Saturday, April 14, 2007

Summary of my Vietnam OITP Experience (The end of 7 weeks in Vietnam)

Summary of my Vietnam OITP Experience (The end of 7 weeks in Vietnam)

I was suppose to keep you all (Sam’s Bake Journal loyal readers) updated about what I do in Vietnam. However, given the working hours, I often returned back to the hotel feeling very tired. Nonetheless, I will give a full blog summary on my overall experience in Vietnam over the past 7 weeks.

Indeed it was a good exposure and experience for me to be working in a bakery in Vietnam. Not only did it open my eyes to see how mass production using both semi-automated machines and high labour, it also showed me how easily satisfied the workers were in the bakery.

Despite the language barrier, we were lucky to have 3 ladies who knew how to speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese respectively. This was one of those times that I was really grateful to my paternal grandparents for teaching me to speak Cantonese whilst they were looking after me when I was much younger. From these 3 ladies, we managed to pick up some simple Vietnamese phrases and words, enough for us to get by our day to day life in the bakery. This was further put to the test when we had two Chinese chefs from China coming to the bakery to conduct some demonstrations on the use of their butter which the boss of the bakery had bought. I had to translate the recipes in Mandarin to Vietnamese.

With respect to the Vietnamese people in general, they are very friendly and very outgoing. They are easily satisfied. When they start working, the two important goals that they want to achieve are to buy a motorcycle and second to that is a mobile phone. They do not have to worry about having a house and paying installments or even paying credit card bills as they are used to making transactions in cash. As they do not have much recreation here, one of their favorite past times is to sing karaoke and they are really great singers.

As pictures say a thousand words, here are some of the pictures we took together with the workers both at work and when we are out together.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hotpots (Steamboats) in Vietnam and Miscellaneous foods

Hotpots (Steamboats) in Vietnam and Miscellaneous foods
Hotpots or Steamboats are a hot favourite here in Vietnam. In Singapore, this is served as a complete meal, however, in Vietnam, this is a soup dish that complements rice or noodles. The hotpot contains seafood, vegetables and a few slices of meat in a variety of soup stocks (Thai Tom Yum, Chicken, etc.) Almost every street corner, you can see these hotpots stalls and restaurants.

Safety have been of little concern whenever we eat them in Singapore, until this incident struck during one of my hotpot meals in Vietnam. We were only about 3 tables away from this fire which took 3 big bottles of fire extinguishers to extinguish. In most cases, these fire hazards are due to the re-using of gas tanks by pumping in gas into the finished tanks. Over time, they get worn out and explosions like these occurs. In this case, it could be due to the oily drips from the food which came into contact with the big flames of the fire and with water and wind the fire spread very fast across the table.

Here are some of the foods that we tried in Vietnam.

Left: Squid Salad, Right: Roasted Mouse Meat
Squid Salad: Steamed squid mixed with onion, pineapples, sliced chilli, parsley and lemon juice.
Roasted Mouse Meat: Lots of bones, very little meat. Tastes like chicken breast meat.