One of the best things about my apartment is that it’s above a supermarket called the Co-op Mart. Of course, the Vietnamese pronounce it as one syllable, “Cub” Mart. I absolutely love living above a handy supermarket. Here are the reasons why.
1. Bad Lyrics T-shirts
One of the great things about living in a non-English speaking country is looking out for all the misprints on clothing, the wearer meanwhile blissfully ignorant of the fashion statement they’re making (or not making).
Gotta love the props given to awesome 80’s band “Teaks for Fears” and their supersmash hit “Head Over Hius”. So close, yet so far. Sigh.
And by the way, the shirt was on a mannequin just so you know I didn’t take a closeup of some poor woman’s chest.
2. Bananas of every shade and size
If you’re a banana lover, Vietnam is the place for you. Bananas we’re used to seeing in the West (yellow and big) are just one of the many varieties. Some stay green even after they’re ripe. My favorite are the tiny bananas (Apple Banana in English). The perfect size for a bowl of cornflakes or a yogurt. A big bunch for about USD 0.50.
3. Hot foods
When I don’t feel like cooking (which happens to be about 6 days out of the week), I can just pop down for a meal of rice, vegetables and a main dish (pictured here clockwise is sticky rice with Chinese sausage, combination fried rice and short ribs with pineapple) and a soup for about USD 1. With about 10 rotating meals a day, why bother busting out the pots and pans?
4. Adventurous Foods
Want to put together a dinner party your friends will never forget? Frog legs look downright innocuous next to silkworm larvae. Yes, I know bugs offer more protein bite-for-bite than beef and require much less resources, but ewwww.
With a coastline of 3260 kilometers, excluding islands, it’s no wonder that Vietnamese love seafood. Shoppers have the option of buying live fish or freshly caught ones.
6. Weird ice cream flavors
Living in a tropical country has its perks. One of my favorite concoctions is coconut ice cream with huge chunks of fresh pineapple. There are a few flavors I haven’t tried, though: Durian Surprise (although the surprise may be how bad durian tastes), Taro Passion (who knew a potato could also be a dessert?) and Delicious Bean.
7. Awesome bath mats
I almost chose this one because it “comfortably makes me feel so good”. Just goes to show: Never underestimate the Power of the Bath Mat.
Another candidate was this one, because I often nibble on my bath mats so “fresh taste” is a prerequisite.
8. Noodle Mania
Yet another reason not to cook. Literally a wall of instant noodles. Everything from Vietnamese “pho” to Thai spicy tom yum to Korean kim chi. If you can boil water, you’ll never go hungry again.
9. Yogurt. A lot of it.
Not to be outdone by the Noodle Wall, your friendly Co-op Mart has a yogurt wall. Domestic and imported, the flavors range from strawberries to corn. Vietnamese also love to drink yogurt, a more liquidy form, somewhere between yogurt and milk.
10. How do you like your rice?
Second only to Thailand as the world’s largest exporter of rice, it makes sense that there should be a plethora of ways to cook it. Shoppers can take their pick of rice cookers. Think Americans are obsessed with coffee makers?
11. What do I get with that?
Vietnamese love their promotions. Unless something’s on sale or comes with a free gift, forget about buying it. My favorite so far has been to buy a box of powdered tea for USD 1.50 and get a free water bottle. Let’s just say I have enough Lipton tea mix to last the next few years…
12. See you in Rio?
Now that Wimbledon and the Olympics are over, I’m going to go into tennis withdrawal. But fear not, I can get my tennis fix while ridding the world of pesky mosquitoes with the bug zapper. With the addition of ridiculous Olympic sports, can bug zapping be very far behind? (Dressage aka horse dancing? Really?) Or if you’re bored enough, you can always use these bug zappers like this.
There you have it. A trip to the local supermarket is never a dull experience.
I’ll leave you with one final image, from the back of a kitchen knife. Shazao! And remember to tone down the wite ball violence.