Monday, February 25, 2013

Eating Squirrel at Perfume Pagoda, Huong Tich Mountain, Vietnam

Brian Hartenstein and Daughter at Perfume Pagoda, North Vietnam, Dec 29, 2012:
I've eaten a lot of gross junk in my travels.  Ate broiled dog in Korea.  Shark fin soup in Taiwan. Monkey brains in Hong Kong.  Snake blood stew in Bangkok.  Sheep intestines in Scotland.  Fried scorpion in Saudi Arabia.  Lamb eye ball kebabs in India.  And cat veins in China.... of course, you can add to that list: silk larva, grasshoppers, and goat testicals!
Cable Car across Huong Tich Mountain, Vietnam.
But it's all in a day's work. What's worse for you, really:  buttered turtle penis or a large order of salty fries at Mickey Dees?
Mountain of the Fragrant Traces, Vietnam.  Don't look down!
One thing or another is going to get you... that's something to ponder when your a couple hundred feet off the ground in a cable car an eight-legged spider the size of an adult male's hand is suddenly spotted on the roof of the cab.
Daughters at Huong Tich, reading to start hiking upward toward Perfume Pagoda.
What I'm saying is, you shouldn't worry so much.  It's not that you'll live longer, but you'll live better.
Cool Vietnamese junk along the train at Huong Tich Mountain.
Hiking up Huong Tich, we stopped and sampled the local fare.  Food and travel go hand in hand.
Wild ginseng, beet root, and natural herbs and fragrances along the path.
Huong Tich has a little of everything.  Eggplant like stuffing.  Cabbage stew over rice.  Braised corn on the cob.
Trails end at Huong Tich Mountain, time to descend stairs into Perfume Pagoda.
But believe me, by the time you hike all the way (over an hour upward through winding villages, make sure you wear relaxed gear, having comfy shoes, and bring something for heat chaffing...) and finally get to the mouth of Perfume Pagoda Shrine...
Small turtles for shelling and snacking... and individual squirrels caught in wire traps for grilling.
You're going to need something to satisfy your hunger.  In that case, try some freshly cooked mountain squirrel!!  It's a delicacy.
Perfume Pagoda outer alter.  The inner alter was covered with red lanterns.
I did!  I had been carrying my youngest over my shoulders for about thirty minutes and was wiped out, stopped, smiled at the talkative woman chattering on about how I was her first customer of the day and had to buy something for good luck... so I pointed at a squirrel and said... that one.  He goes in my belly.
Perfume Pagoda looking upwards towards mountain path through high jungle.  Time to head back.
Lickety Split!  Decapitation.  Skinned.  Impaled.  Grilled.  Handed to me on a plastic plate with sweet & sour hot sauce.  I have to say... on that cable car ride back, I was looking at that spider in a whole new way.

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