I first attempted to make an overall Cyprus video, but our “tourist” clips just didn’t blend well with all the cat videos. So this is a video mostly featuring the seven cats we watched in Dhoros. Gotta love cat videos, though! I will probably make another short video showing some of our activities out, though. Enjoy!
We debated doing a post about this place because it’s kind of out there in Ho Chi Minh. Bánh Rán Doremon is located in the Go Vap District which is outside of the normal tourist areas. I thought the place was cute, though and it’s the only cafe/restaurant I tried in that area. Kyle had some street food and went to a few other restaurants but I did not because they didn’t serve anything vegetarian. There were other restaurants and cafes but most of them were closed during our time there due to Tet.
The first time we passed the cafe we thought this place might be closed as well. Later in the evening, we passed it again and saw a few people (a group of teenagers) inside eating so we decided to try it out.
We took off our shoes (it’s what you do there) and headed inside.
The walls are painted and display framed artwork as well. There are several wood tables in the cafe, most with little vases of fake flowers (it may have been for Tet, though) and past them you can take a step up to a large room with smaller wooden sitting tables. There’s a fish tank as well.
Just inside the doors to the right is where you place your order.
The menu included a few different things:
Bánh Rán Doremon– also the name of the place, this means two small cakes (pancakes) with some kind of spread in between them. They have a number of different options for spread including things like jelly and chocolate. The first time we went there I got peanut butter. Kyle had one with marshmallow on another occasion. This is the name on the outside but a sign outside says Banh Ran and I think it may have even been called something different on the menu. Luckily for us there were some photos provided on the menu.
Ga Ran(fried chicken)- we didn’t order this option.
Khoai Tay– this means potatoes but refers to fries. We tried regular fries and cheese fries. Being American, we were a little disappointed at the portion size but for the price, the amount was very reasonable. The “cheese” on the cheese fries was also not standard for us. It was an orange and red powder. In this case, I preferred them regular.
I think there may have been a few other food options as well but we cannot currently recall. We only ordered pancakes and fries.
In terms of drinks, there were many options. There are a variety of fruit smoothies (tra sua) and many types of teas. We can’t remember if they had coffee because we always went at night. We are actually still not sure if it was open during the day.
The first time I tried to order something- possibly a blackberry smoothie they said they didn’t have it so I chose strawberry. Kyle tried to order a coconut smoothie but they said they didn’t have that either. So he ordered something else as well. This is a pretty typical experience. It’s better than than local places in Malaysia where half the time they either don’t have a menu or don’t even recognize the words on their menu.
We sat down and they brought us what I at first thought was water because it was cold and served with ice (though it was a little yellow) but turned out to be tea. I thought perhaps the water tasted a little different (you think I would have not drank it!) but Kyle let me know it was tea. Complimentary tea is not something I was used to at cafes/restaurants but it was good and a nice surprise. We received it on each subsequent visit as well.
Then the guy went out back and rode his bike away. Interesting. He came back and was in the back and brought us the pancake plate. Then we heard him making the smoothies. He first brought out my strawberry smoothie and then brought out a coconut smoothie as if it was normal even though he said they didn’t have coconut. It is possible he went out and got the coconut or he realized that he actually did have some left. I’m not sure but either way Kyle was happy.
After this Kyle ordered a strawberry smoothie once and then the coconut smoothie (I think it was also the cheapest smoothie) every other time. I tried out some of the different milk teas because they were cheapest and also something different. They were colorful and unlike things I’d tasted before. They were pretty good and the prices were affordable. Examples: It cost us 48,000VND ($2.14) for 2 drinks and fries and 58,000VND ($2.59) for the pancake and drinks.
The way the place operated was somewhat interesting as well. Except for the first time, and I think one or two people one other time, we were the only ones there. I have to wonder how some of these places remain in business with so few customers (though then again, it was Tet.) The guy we usually saw there (we saw a woman one time) was young and he would usually be hanging out in the back with some of his friends who were singing karaoke. He would get up to take and prepare our order and then would go back to his friends. Karaoke was quite big in this area. I recall being at our Airbnb one time and saying to Kyle “What is that sound?” “That is an old man singing karaoke in his underwear in his living room.” (He had seen him I guess.) Anyway, these guys were pretty good at singing. They sang a mix of local and western music and it wasn’t constant. A couple times they stopped and one of them appeared to be doing schoolwork on a laptop.
Overall, nice place and Kyle said the coconut smoothie here is one of his favorite drinks on our travels. As is true of many things we’ve encountered, especially in Vietnam, the cafe is not located on GoogleMaps. If you would like to seek it out (hopefully it remains- things also come and go pretty regularly there, it seems), here is a map indicating the general location:
A few months under a year ago, we were sitting in our recently packed up apartment in San Jose, Kyle having been laid off and starting to get into freelancing, but really we were trying to figure out what to do when we were confirmed for our first international housesit. We really wanted to go abroad and had considered teaching english but when we got this housesit in Korea we were very grateful. We had cared for the pets and houses of friends, family, and friends of family in the past, but this felt a lot more significant. It would be 3 months in country we had never been to with 2 dogs and a turtle we hadn’t met.
When we arrived in October of last year, we felt very lucky. Our transition to South Korea was easier than we thought and we loved the town, having our own place (it had been a long time, despite being a couple and married) and just being somewhere new. We had done a lot of research about Korea before we moved to California because we were considering teaching English even long before this and had gotten very excited over the years about the idea of going there at all. While we did local hikes and outings in the beautiful bay area which we really enjoyed, we really had no ability to travel further because of our work and finances up until this point. Though we didn’t know what would be next at the time, this housesit was really the kickstart to our travels and a big enabler for us. It was a wonderful starting place and so far, as a result of the country and our experiences there, Korea is probably our favorite place so far. It’s funny because now when we run into any sort of potential problem, one of our first thoughts is, let’s go back to Korea. Even though we were only there a few months, it’s almost like a new second home. The country is cheaper than the US, and in some ways more modern as well. It’s also beautiful and interesting with lots of different things to do. I (Briana- we both wrote this article) love that it has seasons.
Our travels may seem like just vacationing around the globe, and to an extent that is something we’d like to accomplish (who wouldn’t?) But don’t be fooled, we work quite a lot. Aside from maintaining an income through freelancing (our work), our stay in South Korea was a bit of work too (like snuggling with dogs hehe, just kidding, there is a little more to it than that.)
While we now often use AirBNB, and it certainly offers a different type of experience, our preferred method of stay is through House Sitting. It is exactly what it sounds like – we watch someone’s house while they are away. Often times, there are pets that need to be watched and taken care of in the mean time too (though not always). So the trade-off is we take care of the house and pets in exchange for “free” room and board. Our preferences for this method are pretty obvious: free rent, a private home with use of facilities, and some nice animals to spend time with. I think it’s good for house-owners too because usually it costs a bit of money to pay someone to come and feed their pets and give them walks and even then, they don’t get the same amount of attention that they would from a house-sitter. If you are curious, the site we used to find this house sit is called Trusted Housesitters. If you sign up with this link, you can get a 20% discount joining.
Our first international house sit was in Songtan, South Korea – roughly an hour and half south of Seoul by train.
We took care of a small apartment, two dogs: Oliver and Muffin, and a turtle named Shelly. Oliver and Muffin were pretty lovable dogs, very easy to want to pet and play with, and Oliver especially was full of energy. Of course, they each had their own personalities and demands, and could get quite jealous of each other. Solution: keep them in your lap. Sometimes we would each take one but there were also times that one would get in Kyle’s lap and then the other one would also demand his lap so they would sit on top of each other. They could get a little distracting at times from work, but it’s hard to complain too much with a nice warm dog in your lap to keep you company.
The dogs also, of course, demanded a walk three times a day, and considering that Oliver was a very energetic dachshund, he needed a thorough walk, and he loved the snow which meant a little extra care bundling up for the walks.
Sometimes, the dogs would get dirty so a bath would be needed but Oliver especially did quite well with the baths.
Oliver was also shameless with food, though, so we had to be careful about him pulling against his harness and grabbing literally everything off the street while we took him for a walk. And if we went out for a long day excursion, we could unfortunately expect to come home to an accident on the floor to clean up. We used potty pads, but sometimes they.. missed a little.
But we did enjoy them sleeping with us and providing a little extra warmth through the cold nights. Oliver enjoyed burrowing under the covers while muffin enjoyed laying next to us or by our feet. And also, the company of dogs can always bring you joy.Both dogs required eye drops, which was not as big a chore as I expected, but still something to consider.
Oliver also liked to keep our feet warm when we were standing or sitting.
Shelley was pretty easy to care for though (and pretty to look at), she just needed to have food when she was in the water every other day, a light cleaning of the tank, and making sure it was warm. Unfortunately her platform kept falling in the water, so we had to fix that constantly, but other than that she was easy. We also researched her kind more (Chinese Golden Threat Turtle) and learned a little more about turtles in the process. We tried feeding her foods that turtles like such as lettuce and grapes but she rejected them all in preference of her dry turtle food. We thought about adding a little more decoration to her tank but often forgot to look when we were out and weren’t sure what would be okay.
The apartment, while small, also required maintenance – like any residence – and it certainly opened our eyes to living as a local in Korea. Humidity is high in Korea, and the Ondol heating system doesn’t dry out the air the way heating units in the US do, so we had to open windows to allow moisture and clean the windows as needed. Mold can be a problem in Korea, so we had to really stay on top of our game to make sure that everything was kept clean. Plus Oliver sheds a bit. In general, we felt highly motivated to keep everything in order, both because it was our first house-sit through this website, and also simply because someone had entrusted all of us in our care and allowed us to stay there.
And of course, we had to learn to live with all the little things that go with living in a different country. The bathroom was a little chilly in the winter – so we opted to take the occasional baths in a tub in the kitchen, adding a little boiling water to heat the water just right.
With only a washing machine and no dryer, we had to hang dry laundry throughout the apartment. Personally I (Briana) don’t mind this at all and have a little more experience with it but hang drying was a pretty new phenomenon to Kyle (even though they do it in most of the world it seems).
The Ondol (heating system) broke once while we were there, resulting in us living a couple very cold days while we got it fixed. Luckily the landlord did bring a small space heater that helped in the meantime. Overall, not a big deal though it would have been moreso later in the winter. A light went out in the bathroom, so I/Kyle spent an afternoon figuring out where to buy a spare light and then installing it. The keypad that serves as the door-lock started running out of batteries and acting up, which required a quick fix from us as well.
The kitchen required some innovative thinking for preparing full meals in a timely manner. Not to mention, we had to figure out how to make do with available food ingredients from the grocer down the street. That was actually pretty fun as we were able to try out some new foods and explore a foreign grocery store (though there were plenty of familiar items).
While we certainly ran into a few hiccups here and there, it was truly an amazing experience, and the work we put in to maintain the apartment and pets was totally worth it for the opportunity to see and live in Korea as a local. We had plenty of upsides: close proximity to several parks, ready access to the Metro system, and even got to experience snow during the holidays.
We enjoyed our house sit, and though we were ready to experience a new place (and warmth at the time), we certainly miss our time house sitting in Songtan and those little furballs (and turtle). Staying here and watching them made Korea feel almost like a new second home to us.
And in a little over 2 months we will have another international housesit: Cyprus with 7 cats!! We’re pretty excited.