Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Vietnam: Getting There

Officially named The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Vietnam is an absolutely amazing tourist destination. Vietnam is bordered by China, Laos, and Cambodia. To the east lies the South China Sea. So not only is there a lot to see in Vietnam, but it is only a stones throw away from many other destinations as well.

Though the GDP is on the rise, Vietnam is still a relatively inexpensive place to visit. With beach resorts starting at about $35. But before you head to Vietnam, make sure you have your VISA.

Heading to get the VISA... glad I am not driving!

A VISA to Vietnam can be applied for by mail or in person at the Embassy of Vietnam as early as six months prior to the date of travel. The applicant must submit:
• Original PASSPORT.
• One completed and signed visa application form with 01 passport-size photo glued or stapled.
VISA fee in the form of MONEY ORDER, or CASHIER’S CHECK, or CERTIFIED CHECK payable to “THE EMBASSY OF VIETNAM.” Applicants applying together may submit the fee in one money order.
A prepaid return envelope, if the applicant requests the visa be returned by mail. Use US Express Mail (UPS and DHL are not accepted for the return envelope). Applicants applying together may provide one envelope for visas to be returned to the same address.

We got our VISA at the Vietnamese Embassy while we were visiting Phenom Penh, Cambodia. We paid the for the expedited service, which I believe cost $60. It took 2 business days. Generally, however, it takes 5 - 7 business days to process visa applications.

Vietnamese Embassy, Phenom Penh, Cambodia

It seemed that we were lucky in getting our VISAS in only 2 days because there were other travelers that were not having the same luck. I think that getting your VISA in Phenom Penh is a bit of a gamble, as there seems to be no exact process. Your best bet... plan in advance in get your VISA before you go.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Recipe - Num Tirk Doung (Coconut Pound Cake)

Khmer Krom coconut pound cake is a moist and delicious cake often taken to the pagoda for food offerings on religious holidays, and also served at local markets. A delightful treat that can be topped with fruit or eaten on its own.


  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Cups all purpose flour
  • ½ Cup melted butter
  • ½ Cup coconut milk
  • ¼ Cup fresh or frozen unsweeted, shredded coconut
  • 1½ Cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ Teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven at 325 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together.
  3. Add egg, one at a time with butter sugar. Mix well.
  4. Add vanilla, baking powder, salt and coconut milk.
  5. Blended all purpose flour and shredded coconut.
  6. Greased cake pan with cooking oil and sprinkle some flour at the bottom of cake pan.
  7. Pour the cake batter in to the cake pan.
  8. Bake for 1 ½ hours.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven, cool and remove from pan.
  10. Cream cheese icing with toasted coconut is optional (and yummy!)
  11. Serve with tea or coffee.