Killing chickens in Phong Nha

Killing chickens in Phong Nha

I’m sorry for any of my Vegan or Vegetarian friends out there. A story about the bar with cold beer and killing chickens in Phong nha isn’t forgotten easily. This isn’t the most pleasant story either, but it is one of the more random ways you can find a meal in Vietnam.

Killing chickens in Phong Nha

This was never on my list of things to do, I’m not a fan of hunting or killing animals. Being in Asia though it is one of those odd things you happen to stumble across from time to time. It wasn’t part of any ceremony or ritual either, I don’t see how killing something can be spiritual/ritualistic. The bar with cold beer has become one of those urban legend type places along the travelling route. There is a similar location in Mexico which you can read about here, but which isn’t as much fun.

Killing chickens in Phong Nha
The view from our restaurant

How I came about killing a chicken in Phong Nha was mainly due to word of mouth.  Phong Nha is an area in Vietnam which contains some of the worlds largest caves. The group I was travelling with and myself decided it would be a cool place to check out and explore. We were also trying to avoid Ho chi Minh as it would mean the end of out trip . So we all booked into the only hostel in town and arranged our trip to the dark cave the third largest cave system in the world. You can check out about that here.

Making a decision

While in the town we discussed the options of visiting ‘THE PUB WITH COLD BEER’. This is the location where the owner gave you the option of killing your own chicken. Besides the caves the town didn’t have any other attractions. We were a large group and a few members were vegetarian, but they did like beer so everyone was persuaded to go.

Once we arrived at the bar which was a little rural, we were greeted by the owner, his wife and their two cute little kids. Also running about was what would soon be our dinner. Thankfully there were no larger animals to choose.

As there was a large group of us we decided that three chickens would be enough and some of us volunteered to be the executioners. This wasn’t done out of some sick idea, but simply to prove to myself that if I cannot kill the animal I have no right to eat it. That was my justification anyway.

Meal preparation

Choosing the right chicken

Having explained this through some very violent hand gestures the lady of the house proceeded to kill one of the chickens right in front of us. This as a little unexpected and we clearly hadn’t understood each other. Now I was having second thoughts, but I had volunteered. I’m still sure the owner gave me a blunt knife on purpose because the killing wasn’t as fast or clean as I hoped and he seemed to have a great laugh at my expense.

Without going into more detail about killing chickens in Phong Nha lets just say they ended up being our dinner. All of the ingredient were cooked and prepared over an open fire. It was one of the nicest meals I had travelling through Vietnam. Besides the initial horror which occurred, it was still quite a unique experience.

The family who ran the bar had  a good laugh. I feel we were not the first and wont be the last to come for this unique experience. So if killing chickens in Phong Nha wasn’t something you considered, now you know.

Meal time with the travelling family

What have been some of your strangest travel experiences?

16 Replies to “Killing chickens in Phong Nha”

    1. Ha yes, not the nicest of stories, but one I had to share. At least they were eaten and not just killed for sport.

  1. I figure those chickens had it coming. They were growing up leaches of society, never producing their own food or building their own coops and just wanting to live of the welfare of the farmer…. Just kidding.

    You didn’t say trigger warning before I read your post titled “Killing Chickens in Phong Nha”. I didn’t know chickens were going to die. Just kidding.

    All kidding aside, I liked this story, but I am not very squeamish about killing chickens. Mom was a PhD Poultry Scientist and taught Poultry Science at the local University so I was exposed to the life cycle of chickens from an early age. What was most interesting in this tale wasn’t the death of the birds, but the departure from your comfort zone, partaking of new experiences, and forming a genuine bond with the local community. All of these elements are the essential ingredients of a travel tale.

    1. Hahaha I wouldn’t call them leeches, they tasted pretty good in the end. The peanut sauce was an unexpected bonus. But I like the idea of a chicken take over ha.

      Yeah, it will definitely stay with me for quite awhile, not in the scared for life sense just in the blood spattering on your clothes kind of sense. Gladly these were free reign chickens so I’m sure they had a happy life before I came along.

  2. Hmmm… interesting stuff. I kind of agree with your statement that you shouldn’t eat an animal if you are not prepared to kill it yourself, but just not sure that I could physically kill a chicken if it came to it. When we were in Marrakech, there were live chickens being slaughtered on the spot for chicken meat, but I was more than happy to let the stall dude do the slaughtering! Food for thought, pardon the pun! Thanks for sharing – will steel myself for our trip to Vietnam later this year!

    1. Yeah, I definitely won’t take it up as a trade that’s for sure. once was enough for me. Vietnam is absolutely stunning, you’ll love it.

  3. The things you do when traveling hey! Although I’m a chef by trade and when I was very young was raised on a farm, so killing animals for food is not outside my thought processes but actually killing an animal, well now, that’s a whole different thing. Hats off to you for volunteering and going through with it and how amazing for everyone that the meal was so good.

    1. I’m very happy the meal turned out nice, it would have been a completely different story otherwise I think. Definitely not something I would do again, 100% once in a life time kind of experience.

  4. I totally agree that this is confronting, but I’m with you, that if you can’t bring yourself to kill something you have no right to eat it. We’ve become so detatched from the source of our food in the west, we think it’s cruel and inhumane to kill anything, as if it just rocks up already dead on our plates. I was in the Solomon Islands and our hosts invited anyone who wanted to watch how they sourced our food for the next week – it was the slaughter of a pig, and it was terrifying, but at the same time, I now have a much deeper appreciation for the food that I eat.

    1. Exactly my thinking as well. People watch a video online, say ‘oh that’s horrible’ and then eat their meal. They forget where it comes from, this was just a very stark reminder.

  5. This is quite shocking but I guess there would be people wanting to have a kind of primitive experience like this one. Not my thing, but eventually somebody should kill that chicken for dinner :/

  6. I love eating chickens but I guess I never had the guts to kill them. I don’t know what to make of it ( me, standing there to kill one , I mean) But they do make a good dish.

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