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Food safety in Vietnam?

Old Sep 12th, 2002, 01:08 PM
  #1  
marillyn
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Food safety in Vietnam?

Vietnamese restaurants often serve fresh lettuce leaves, basil and mint. Are these safe to eat in Vietnam? Books say don't eat anything fresh unless it can be peeled. Pretty difficult to do with lettuce leaves, etc. How about in Bangkok?
 
Old Sep 12th, 2002, 04:11 PM
  #2  
Alan
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Hi, Marillyn!
I smiled reading your post, as I always prided myself on being so careful with food that I never once got sick anywhere on my travels.... including a trip with a group through Egypt during which everyone else had to take at least one day off. But Vietnam did it for me. There was a restaurant in Hue where the proprietors were so nice, and they brought us some fantastic food (not off the menu) and then sat and watched us while we ate it, and it was full of fresh green stuff, and I thought, what the hell..... well, next day on the river cruise I had to miss lunch and dinner. No permanent harm done, but the moral of this story is.... listen to the books!
 
Old Sep 18th, 2002, 07:48 AM
  #3  
Marilyn
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Thanks for the info. That's what I was afraid of. Any other opinions? We plan to be in Vietnam (tour from Hanoi to Ho Chi Mink City), Bangkok, and SiemRiep.
 
Old Sep 18th, 2002, 09:12 AM
  #4  
Marilyn
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I have managed to almost never get sick using the "Peel it, cook it, or don't eat it" rule. However, I HAVE gotten sick on both of my trips to Siem Reap. While I finally broke down in Thailand and ate uncooked greens in a resort hotel with no ill effect, I would NOT recommend it in Vietnam and Cambodia. In an upscale restaurant in Bangkok I would say you were pretty safe.

Also beware of buffet food that has been sitting out for hours. (That got me last time in Siem Reap, and I should have known better.)

If you are really concerned, pick up a book called "Shitting Pretty" which will tell you everything you need to know about GI health while traveling in 3rd world countries.

Have a great time -- Angkor is truly one of the most amazing places on the planet.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 07:02 AM
  #5  
xxx
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My family, including my children, have eaten all kinds of leafy greens in Vietnam (it is almost impossible to avoid them) and we never got sick. We are careful about bottled water, however.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 05:23 PM
  #6  
Andrea
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Since I work for a medical clinic, I know better (and certainly shouldn't pass my cavalier attitude on), but I always eat the fresh wraps, basil, mint, etc., and have never gotten sick (in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines). I don't order seafood (unless it's a cooked fillet), I avoid mayonnaise . . . I try to be somewhat careful, but realize that sometimes it's just bad luck. My poor husband gets food poisoning every couple of months, and it's always something innocuous like pizza.

In nicer restaurants and hotels your odds are better, but I have friends who have had severe food poisoning 3 times in the past 5 years, and they swear that each time it was from a 5 star hotel.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 05:49 PM
  #7  
Marilyn
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Andrea -- 5 star hotels often have food prepped in the kitchen and consequently sitting out. I risked a green salad at the Grand Hotel in Siem Reap (Cambodia) and while I didn't get really sick, I'm pretty sure something wasn't right by the way my tummy felt later that night. And then there are the buffets -- I'll never make THAT mistake again. Ugh. I was ill for 5 days, running a mild fever, etc.

The book "Shitting Pretty" (which you should get if you can) makes the point that often you are safer eating from a street vendor if you can see the food being cooked in front of your eyes.
 
Old Sep 20th, 2002, 04:38 AM
  #8  
xxx
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We just returned from VN. We travelled to 3rd contries quite a bit but never got sick eating green leafy vegetables. Well, VN did it. We had basil and mint with our PHO and got traveller's diarrhea and also food poisoning!
 
Old Sep 20th, 2002, 05:27 AM
  #9  
Marilyn
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Where can one get the book Shitting Pretty - this sounds like a must have for my library.
 
Old Sep 20th, 2002, 07:43 AM
  #10  
Kathie
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I've never gotten sick in SE Asia, but I am pretty careful about what I eat. Salads and such are only for 5* hotels and restaurants in Thailand. (In Singapore, of course, you can eat anything!)

MarilynF, what bad luck to get sick in Siem Reap! I had no problems in Siem Reap, as I mostly ate at the Angkor Village Resort where we were staying. I don't really like buffets, and your experience is a good reminder to avoid them!
 
Old Sep 20th, 2002, 10:32 AM
  #11  
Marilyn
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Since I've been touting the book "Shitting Pretty" on several threads, here are the details. It's written by Dr. Jane Wilson-Howarth and subtitled "how to stay clean and healthy while traveling". Published by Travelers' Tales (a wonderful series of books if you are not familiar with them). The publisher's website is www.travelerstales.com.

Kathie -- you and I often post on the same threads about Angkor. I have gotten ill from bad food on both of my trips there but I swear it won't happen again! We stay at the Angkoriana Hotel on the road to the temples. We love it, but it does not have a restaurant, and one night, exhausted from the day's sightseeing, we just got a quick dinner at the next door restaurant's tourist buffet. It was late and I was unlucky --neither of my 2 companions got ill. Still...never again!
 
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