The road ends, but the journey continues...

Sixty Pho’ part one

Got this postcard from our son Joe in the snail mail a few days ago.

Make Pho' Not War

Welcome to the 21st century, Vietnam and Baby Boomers!

 The slogans written on the VW bus are as follows:

  • Make Pho’ Not War
  • Draft Beer, Not boys
  • Peace
  • all we need is peace
  • Love
  • Hoian (Quang Nam Province)
  • War is expensive, Peace is priceless

And the best for last:

  • Vietnam against War (using the V and W in the VW logo)

Coming of age during the Vietnam War, the country itself has never held any appeal for me to visit. Dove or Hawk, protester or soldier, the war in Vietnam was complicated. The dread of the draft during wartime isn’t too much understood these days as we have an all-volunteer army which implies a desire to be involved in the military in some form or another during times of war and of peace. Those days, enlisting was an option that meant a guy of draftable age could at least choose a branch of the military in which to serve. Hubby chose the Navy.
As such, while hubby served during the Vietnam War, his assigned job as a naval optical man. He’s very adamant about making the distinction that he’s a Vietnam era Vet, not a Vietnam Veteran in deference to those who did indeed serve their tour of duty in Southeast Asia.
Anyway, I have to admit our son’s month long trip hiking, biking and scootering the entire length of Vietnam starting in the North and ending in the South, opened my eyes to its natural beauty, culture, native coffees & foods, and as a traveler’s destination.
Like many of you, I was first introduced to those fresh Vietnamese Noodle Bowls in the 1990’s and graduated to the more complex flavors of Pho’ in recent years. So now, Joe’s fun postcard entices me further as he wrote on the back –

Move over Pho - here comes Bun Bo Hue!

Move over Pho – here comes Bun Bo Hue!

‘I found a pho-sibling that is equally delicious! Bon Bo has a deeper roast flavor to the broth…other delicious dishes to look out for are Bohn Beo, Bahn Khoai.’
Yum! I’m all in!
Darn – I don’t think those selections are on any menu around here in Florence, SC. I even double checked via google since FloTown has been changing in recent years…to be fair. However, I did find in the google search a single listing of a Vietnamese Restaurant that debuted in 2015 and closed down in the same year.
Just sayin’…I’ll keep a keen eye for these dishes elsewhere.
Meanwhile, as for the use of Pho’ as a word in the blogpost title rather than as the name of a delicious dish – How did you mentally pronounce the word Pho’? Faux or Fuh?
Hint: the correct pronunciation of Pho’ helps one to understand its relationship to the Sixty in the title of this post and will become evident as you continue to read on…next time in part two…

So, how do you pronounce Pho’?


  1. marissthequilter

    At least you don’t have to cross the ocean!

  2. marissthequilter

    Very clever!!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Just re-reading this, I have a huge craving for a bowl of pho’!

      • marissthequilter

        Hope you can make some. Otherwise you will have to go to Vietnam!

        • laura bruno lilly

          I have tried my hand at it – and it turns out okay, just wish I could pop out for some pho’ but there’s no pho’ place around here! When I visit kids in Michigan and/or Colorado, I can get my pho’ fix at any number of Vietnamese restaurants!

  3. Deborah Brasket

    The sixties were our era too so love the post card. My husband joined the marines on his 18th bday and spent 2 years in the jungles of Vietnam, a machine -gunner. He doesn’t talk much about his experiences over there, but when he does he says it was the most beautiful place he’d ever seen, the rivers, waterfalls, flowers, wildlife. So surreal, all that and the bloody war, he said.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I find it interesting that while in the midst of horrific circumstances – life threatening, politically confusing and at such a young age – that your husband-as-Marine could see the ambient beauty of his surroundings.

  4. Jennie Fitzkee

    I so enjoyed this post, Laura. Love the VW bus! Reminds me of Woodstock (I was going and then didn’t go). While I’m inept when it comes to food and cooking anything beyond lasagne, I get the Sixty Pho’. Hubby was also Navy, fighter jets, and on the Kennedy headed to Vietnam when the war was cancelled. His squadron has a reunion every three years. Really nice! Sorry to babble on. Looking forward to Part 2.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Love our ‘connections’, Jennie.
      Wow, fighter jets – has he ever done a show and tell for your students?
      Have a great weekend.

  5. Jill Weatherholt

    Pho is my fuhavorite! That is the coolest postcard, Laura! No doubt your son has some amazing stories.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh yeah! For sure. He loves coffee, too like me, his Ma, and shared special Vietnamese beans brewed in the traditional prep when he got back and WoWza!
      So, Charlotte has some good pho’ places?

  6. Ally Bean

    I pronounce pho like “faux” and regardless of how you pronounce it would like to try some sometime. If I were a person who had a bucket travel list, I’d put Vietnam on the top five places. As a little girl I heard news about every day– not good news of course, but it permeated my childhood.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Spoken like a true culinary adventurer-er!
      Find you some pho’, child!

  7. Susan Ranscht

    I would have pronounced it faux if I’d ever said it — until a couple years ago when my son told me it was fuh. He really likes it, but I’ve never tried it. Isn’t it basically a thin noodle soup? I know it has other ingredients and spices in it. What about it do you find delicious?

    • laura bruno lilly

      It’s all about the rich broth! And it’s filled with goodies – light noodles, fresh crisp veggies, thinly sliced bits of beef and pork (which are cooked in the hot broth as they are added into the soup bowl upon serving), with condiments at hand to add with each bite. A bit of fresh basil with some fish sauce, a squeeze of lime and red pepper garlic paste…ohhhh!
      You should have your son take you to a place where they serve pho’ and have him order you a bowl…there are lots of styles to choose from!

  8. Andy

    My cousin visited Vietnam and Cambodia a couple of years ago, she absolutely loved the experience. She found the museums dedicated to telling the story of the war particularly engrossing-her knowledge of the conflict was scant beforehand.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Joe was impressed with the number of museums in general and the variety of museums – each area has its own cultural, religious, ethnic slant of their country’s history including the war in Vietnam. I found the locals references to Ho Chi Minn as ‘Uncle Ho’ quite comical.

      • Andy

        Thought I should mention on here that I’ve sent you an email-I know sometimes they go astray!

        • laura bruno lilly

          That they do – just checked and yippee love the photos! Will send on an email later for sure.
          Thanks for the alert – I have been having email issues lately – got hacked ugh.
          peace, bud.

  9. Anne

    I travelled to Vietnam a number of years ago, and really enjoyed it, Hanoi especially. I’d love to spend more time there and get off the beaten tourist track, up into the mountains. Although places on the tourist track, like How Long Bay and Hoian and Huy are definitely worth visiting. And the food is delicious too!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Good for you! Vietnam seems a bit of a challenge to me as a woman, though I’m not sure why I’d feel that way.
      Yeah, a good mix of touristy and off the beaten path is always good. Our son did both – especially as he made friends with local travelers exploring their own country. That got him introduced to places really off the beaten path!

  10. Marty

    Good G-d, that picture of the Pho on the last link has made me HUNGRY! I first tried pho when I lived in Washington, DC in the 80’s and 90’s, and frequented the many restaurants in the “Little Saigon” neighborhood of Arlington, VA. But it wasn’t until I moved out west in the 2000’s and got to really enjoy it in San Francisco and visits to Portland, OR. I haven’t had any since, and now you’ve made me want some! The pronunciation I’ve always heard is “Foh.”
    Your husband’s distinction is admirable and exemplary in equal parts; Good on him. And I hope your son gets home safely. What a wonderful adventure for him! – Marty

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks for chiming in, Marty!
      Yum. Now you’ve got me going! HA!
      Thanks also for your acknowledgement on my husband’s ‘distinction’…nice that others ‘get it’.

  11. Lillian Batarseh

    Sorry, Laura.
    I don’t know
    how to pronounce Pho!
    Should I learn?

    • laura bruno lilly

      HA! Funny rhyme you penned to remember it, Lillian.
      Just put an ‘f’ sound in front of your Duh and you got it, right? Easy peasy!

  12. Jane Chesebrough

    A lot of people go to Vietnam and I hear it is beautiful now that the green is back. My friend went and took a cooking class while there and brought home some delicious recipes. The dish here looks yummy.I am guessing an English person would say”faux” and a Vietnamese person would say “fuh.” We have a few Vietnamese restaurants here in Edmonton.

    • laura bruno lilly

      About the pronunciation, you are spot-on, Jane.
      About the countryside itself – so that’s what the difference was in the photos I couldn’t put my finger on – you’re right, now that it’s green again…a not so subtle reminder of how our generation remembers an entire country.

  13. Mary

    Well, that was a blast from the past! I recall sitting anxiously by my radio as the lottery proceeded, wondering what would happen to my friends. It was a disturbing time, so it’s nice to hear of Vietnam as a tourist destination

    • laura bruno lilly

      It does kind of take a bit of getting used to as a person of our generation, doesn’t it? But nice indeed.

  14. Joe Finnerty

    I sing: Phee Pheye PHO Phum, Eat a noodle soaked in rum.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Too funny, Joe –

  15. Roseanne

    Hi Laura! Vietnam has never been a destination that I wanted to visit. Mostly because I have seen it several times on the Amazing Race, and it always looks so hot and humid there. I don’t tolerate high humidity very well. Now their food is another topic, as I think much of it looks delicious and tasty. I pronounced it as faux in my head although there’s nothing to make that a long “O” now that I think about it. I look forward to part II. Happy Happy Monday to you. ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh I get you on the humidity factor. It’s even higher there than here in the swamplands of South Carolina! HA!

  16. L. Marie

    I once asked heard that question asked. I thought it was “faux.” But it is “fuh.” I love pho! (Bun Bo Hue looks delicious!) And I admire your son’s itinerary! What made him decide to do that? Is that going to be another post?

    • laura bruno lilly

      L.Marie, he’s just an adventuring soul…he works intensely for several months in order to take off on his adventures. It helps that his profession is tech and very mobile if need be. Strangely, he’s a home-body at heart and admits this!!!
      And a Vietnam post might be in the offerings in 2019…we’ll see!

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