World Taste Atlas Founder: 'Vietnam is Forever One Of My Favorite Countries'
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|Matija Babić is the founder of Taste Atlas. (Photo: Zing News)|
Matija Babić, 43 years old, Croatian, is the founder of Taste Atlas - a global food map. In the past 17 months, Matija and his girlfriend have set foot in about 50 provinces and cities in Vietnam by different means of transportation. After the very long trip, the man put Vietnam in his 'most favorite countries.'
'In 2020 I came up with the idea of spending 6 months to explore Southeast Asia. My girlfriend and I picked Vietnam to be the first destination. Chef Anthony Bourdain's big enthusiasm for the S-shaped land inspired my decision and the kindness of Vietnamese people helped me understood his affection for the country,' Matija said.
|Vietnam has a strong beer culture, he said. (Photo: Zing News)|
Loved every inch of Vietnam
'My first impression of Vietnam is a bloomy Hanoi on a rainy day in February 2020. Then I traveled to Ha Long Bay, then Ninh Binh. At first, I got surprised seeing the alarming amount of trash on Ha Long and Phu Quoc beaches. After being here for a while, my love for Vietnam gradually grew as I got to know this country more deeply and authentically,' he said.
Ha Giang is Matija Babić's favorite place in Vietnam. The man fell for Ha Giang's beauty and its people's characteristics.
|Matija Babić loves taking photos of Vietnam. (Photo: Zing News)|
|(Photo: Zing News)|
'One evening in Ha Giang, we wandered around the city because we couldn't find a place to stay. All hotels were fully booked because it was flower season here. Suddenly a motel owner chased us and offered us to sleep on the first floor for free. We, travelers, treasure such heartwarming experiences much more than 5-star resorts,' he said.
The Croatian tourist said he did not find Hanoi charming when he first arrived in the city. However, after spending several months here, he suddenly fell in love with Hanoi, especially the area around the West Lake with its bustling scene of beer shops. 'I really hope the pandemic to be over soon and everything here will return to normal,' he said.
|Ha Giang is his favorite place. (Photo: Zing News)|
Definitely will come back to Vietnam
During his trip, Matija Babić and his girlfriend have tried countless dishes and restaurants to review on his food website.
'We have tried a lot of things, except dog meat. At first, we were quite scared when we heard about that dish. However, when I think about the difference between eating a calf and a dog, turns out we are just being hypocritical towards a different culture,' Matija said.
|(Photo: Zing News)|
'I love Vietnamese fruit, especially in the Mekong region. I have only been able to enjoy such wonderful fruits during my trip to Peru. In Europe, the majority of people have never tried a jackfruit - something that is incredible to me. Besides, Vietnam also has a strong beer culture. I found several small but excellent craft beer brands, including one run by a young Vietnamese. I believe that if given good conditions, these brands can be famous worldwide'
Matija and his girlfriend came back to Europe a month ago and are traveling other parts of the world. However, he still closely watches Covid situation in Vietnam. The man hopes Vietnam will soon overcome the pandemic.
'Vietnam is developing very fast. The young people here are full of enthusiasm. I am sure that your country will continue to grow quickly and wonderfully. Vietnam has a very good young national football team and I will continue to follow their path. Vietnam is forever one of our favorite countries. My girlfriend and I will definitely be back soon.'
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