We are now going on our 4th day in Hoi An Vietnam which is located in the central part of Vietnam. Hoi An is very different from Hanoi in so many ways but once again we are loving every minute of our adventure!
In Hoi An, the streets are lined with many unique things that are very distinct to this small town. One of those things being street lanterns. Paper lanterns line the outside of many street shops that are turned on once the sun sets. This town is absolutely stunning at night time. Many different colors of lanterns light up the streets. Another unique thing in Hoi An is the clothes tailors. There are around 200 clothes tailoring shops that will make you any dress, suit, or shirt you could ever want in about 2-4 days. Hoi An is also a UNESCO heritage site due to the "old town". Full of old temples and houses which we are going to attempt to source out tomorrow!
So far our stay in Hoi An has been largely focussed around food! The 2nd day we were here we took a cooking class with the "Green Bamboo" cooking school. Absolutely wonderful! Van (a very nice Vietnamese lady) picked us up at our hotel and took us to the local market to buy our ingredients for the dishes that we were to be cooking that day. Most locals do not have refridgeration here so your food is bought daily. The market was packed with locals and was an experience in its own! We got to the herb section where Van told us the ladies get up at 3am to pick the fresh herbs for the day. We then go to the seafood section, where she informs us that it shouldnt smell like fish because most of the fish/ seafood had been could between a 1/2 hour- 1 hour ago...very fresh. We picked up our prawns that we would be cooking which were still very alive! We then go to the meat section which was slightly visially overwhelming but didnt stink like I though it would. I will spare the details of the sights but we got lots of pictures of the meat section to share when we get back. We then went back to Van's house where we prepared and cooked 8 dishes. Items form BBQ pork, lemongrass shrimp, claypot fish, fresh spring rolls, to stuffed squid. Highlight of the preperation of the food might have been watching my mother have to pull the heads off the live shrimp...pretty hilarious (sorry vegetarians out there)!!! All the food was delcious!
Today we experienced a "food tour" of Hoi An. This was a tour where we tasted over 40 local dishes (street food) to get you more comfortable with eating the food on the street. Half the things I would never consider trying but were actually very very good. We learned that the dirtier the street stall (with littered paper and food scraps) the better the food would be. It was a sign that people enjoyed there meal. Very different from back at home. We got to taste things such as: fruit shakes, Vietnamese subs (egg, pate, hot sauce), pho, lots of rice dishes, and so many other very exotic but great tasting dishes that were passed down from generation to generation. Our tour guide Nevelle, said that the skill of cooking food here was an "unconscious compentence". They had no idea how they made the dishes but it was second nature and they cooked the dishes with such skill. We were also informed that the Vietnamese people were very concerned for their own health so only eat where the local eat, not the tourists, because they are going to ensure that their people dont get sick from the food! We were so incredibly stuffed by the end of the tour!
The last couple of days we have met some amazing people, ate some delicious food, and saw some amazing sights. We are off to a historic sight tomorrow at 5am (to beat the heat) called My Son to see some old temples. Might finish off the day with a massage from our favorite local place (amazing and cheap!!). The day after we head further south to Nha Trang to finish off our stay in Vietnam with some great beaches.
So far, Vietnam is a must do for anyone wanting to travel to SE Asia...unreal!
Hope everyone is doing great back home! Would love to hear your stories as well!