There is no cake. It’s official, the Vietnamese do not do dessert. Well they sort of do. At the end of a meal a beaming happy person pops up proudly bearing dessert. But it’s always fresh fruit. Pineapple, and fruit that’s like a cross between an apple and a pear, and water melon. The food here is mega healthy and usually I like it. Fish and vegetables and rice, and tofu and cabbage and prawns. And fish and vegetables and rice, and tofu and cabbage and prawns. And fish and vegetables, but NEVER, NEVER ANY CAKE.
This must be why the Vietnamese are all so small. I have not seen a fat Vietnamese person. And everyone looks well and happy on a diet that pretty much excludes wheat, refined sugar and dairy, decent wine and good beer. Generally I’d be OK with this but, but, it’s Christmas.
Today was a lot of paddling around in Halong Bay. I’m a happy splashy kind of kayaker, my stroke is erratic so I get wet and burn up a lot of energy on the water. The day has a sort of ski holiday feel to it, being part of a largeish group, doing lots of stuff. Paddling your own canoe, but generally following the same route. But that’s where the similarity ends. The very best thing about ski ing is in my opinion, is that after a day on the slopes, whether you’ve done a million head plants, or skied moguls and black runs like a pro’, there is always cake, and lots of it to commiserate or celebrate your skiing day. If you’re in a chalet usually it’s home made, thick heavy slices laden with sugar and dairy. Sacher torte, apple strudel, coffee and walnut cake, treacle tart. And the smell in the chalet is of wood burner, come freshly baked cake and spruce and mulled wine spices.
We’re sleeping on a boat tonight, and the smell is mainly of boat fumes. Though there are festive coloured lights and Michael Buble is singing Christmas songs, at my request. I’ve put on my red dress and gold scarf, because after all it is Christmas, and it’s also nice to get out of my soggy denim shorts. With my limited wardrobe, it’s either the red dress or my PJs. When I walk into the dining room I am overdressed, all my fellow kayakers just looking like drier versions of their kayaking selves.
Sitting like a tinsel fairy amongst my Mountain Warehouse clad buddies I have a sudden and unexpected craving for a full Christmas dinner, the complete works topped off with Cornish cheese board and mince pies, crackers, silly paper hats and terrible jokes.
And that once a year feeling of being absolutely stuffed, but enough room for a very small slice of cake.
But guess what’s on tonight’s menu. Fish and vegetables and rice, and tofu and cabbage and prawns. Can’t wait.