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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Food Adventures in Saigon, Vietnam

(also known as Ho Chi Minh City)

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

If you have never been to Asia, you must know that the food options here are exotic and many. Everyday shopping is an adventure. You don't just purchase a banana, you must choose from a dozen of types of banana.

Come take a look for yourself.

Fruit display at Ben Thanh marketplace

The flaming style fruit in the center of this photo is called dragon fruit. The outer skin is a bright fuchsia and it has these scale-like  appendages with green shoots growing out of it. If you cut the dragon fruit in sections, it will either be stark white with hundreds of little black seeds like poppy seeds or the inside could be a deep beet red with the same dark seeds. The flavor of the dragon fruit is quite mild compared to its ostentatious cover. It is juicy and subtle in sweetness.

Green mangos are on the left, a yellow cantaloupe is on the right and apples are displayed in the front.

At the top right is a "stinky" spiky looking fruit called durian. One must acquire a taste for this fruit, just as only certain people enjoy limburger cheese. This delicacy is so smelly that airlines forbid anyone to eat it while in flight!

Our breakfast fruit plate

Here you see a typical plate of tropical fruit. Notice the dragon fruit in the upper center. Doesn't it look like a piece of poppy seed cake? Pomelo and grapefruit are on the lower left, orange slices are in the center, sweet jackfruit is at 1 o'clock, then pineapple slices and then lychee at the bottom right. Small bananas are on the upper left.

This is such a delicious treat!


Pho and accompaniments

Pho (pronounced as a combination of the words "fur" and "foe" is a typical Vietnamese dish from the north of the country, but you can get it anywhere in Vietnam. This was one of the lunches brought to our room by the Compass Living staff. Pho is a noodle soup packed with your choice of seafood, sliced rare beef, pieces of pork or even fish balls. Vietnamese dishes are often accompanied by bean sprouts, lime, chili sauces and various fragrant greens, affectionately called "weeds." This soup, in all its variations, is surprisingly delicious and satisfying.

Egg noodle soup with seafood

Another delicious soup comes with seafood, greens, onion slices and egg noodles. Of course the chilis and chili sauce make their appearance, with lime to squeeze into the soup. Vietnamese soups are eaten with chopsticks and you are either served a spoon or you can slurp the broth from the bowl.

Vietnamese spring rolls and a bowl of Pho

Spring rolls made in Vietnam are some of the best ever. The outer wrapping is thin and crisp, not like the Chinese style of a thicker outer wrap that holds grease when it's deep fried. There is a side of pickled vegetables in the upper right, BBQ pork, peanuts, rice noodles and these items are laid on a bed of bean sprouts and green weeds. A cup of sweetened fish sauce is the accompaniment and is drizzled over these items, or you can use it as a dipping sauce. Chili sauces are available also.

This is like a bowl of soup without the broth. Surprisingly filling.

Chicken wings in butter sauce

There is no way you could possibly know how good these chicken wings taste from just looking at this photo. The butter sauce is rich and there are chilis, yellow and green onions in the sauce with parsley on top. It's not very Asian to suggest this, but what is needed is a loaf of French bread to mop up the sauce.

Water spinach

This water spinach is sauteed in garlic oil. The crispy bits on top are the fried garlic. The spinach itself is more like eating a plate of crunchy stems, but the dish is very tasty.

Fur clams

These are stuffed fur clams presented on a bed of weeds. They are stuffed with peanuts and green onions with a tasty sauce drizzled on top. A cold Saigon beer and a plate of both water spinach and Spanish peanuts completes this course.


Stuffed snail

When we ordered this dish, we thought we were ordering half-a-dozen escargot with peanuts and garlic. One huge snail the size of your fist came out on a plate. Billy had to wrestle it to the ground to get it out of the shell and then we proceeded to cut it with a steak knife to eat it. Still, it was very tasty.

Food to go

Traveling vendors are everywhere on the streets of this busy city of 8 million. This woman carries her own grill with her plus all the supplies she needs to cook up her offerings. When you sit outside on one of the tiny chairs drinking beer, she will come up to you and cook for you chair-side.

Another street restaurant

The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in this communist country. People set up just about anywhere to do business. This woman has brought her food by shoulder pole and placed both of her colanders over steamers. Duck eggs with the baby duck inside and snails are being offered.

Notice that these child size chairs are serving both as stools and as tables.  

For more stories and photos of Vietnam, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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