Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Vietnam part 1: Hoi An

On the morning of Thursday 21st April I woke up at 6:30am, to the sound of my dad leaving the hotel room to go for a jog or something equally insane given the 38 degree, 80% humidity conditions in Hoi An, Vietnam. If I hadn't wanted to kill him the morning before when he was singing on the shuttle ride to the airport I sure did then. Thankfully, and uncharacteristically I fell back to sleep and managed to stay that way until about 8am.

The breakfast at The Glory Hotel was pretty much the best you can expect in Vietnam. A quirky blend of continental, Asian and British, with french pastries, fresh fruit, pho, and omelettes on demand. Our first stop was one of the countless tailoring shops in Hoi An. We were there for about 20 minutes at best, which was long enough for Steph to order two dresses. It was about 9:30am and they told us that the dresses would be ready at 6pm. We did a loop of the street and paused briefly outside a different tailoring shop. All of a sudden, the woman who'd fitted Steph at the previous store poke her head out. "You want to come inside, have look?" (if I'm one hundred percent honest her English was probably better than that.) "No thank you" we replied. She let us go easily, which should have tweaked suspicion. A few doors along, Steph noticed another dress that caught her fancy and she made the mistake of pointing it out to me. The same woman appeared again, trotting after us. "This my shop too!" (admit it, the broken English makes the story far more amusing). Within 10 minutes, she'd scored herself another dress order. And that was how my sister spent $100 on one street.

It was about this time that I put a blanket ban on Steph buying dresses.

From there we went to one of the many small bike rental places. It was then that I made a rookie error. We knew it was 3km to the beach, and that Dad's block of land that he hoped to show us was further along. We knew we had to ride back as well. It didn't take a genius to work out that we were looking at 7km on a bike, in the South-East Asian sun and none of us had bothered putting sunscreen on that morning.

I got burnt for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long. Like properly burnt, as opposed to slight redness that's brown by the next day. I even peeled a little bit- on my forehead and nose. The shame. I cannot tell you. I'm Australian, and I'm sun conscious- I do not burn. I certainly do not peel. And on my FACE of all places? On the plus side, my arms are pretty damn brown now- except of course for the thin white line from wear my bangle sat.

We returned to the hotel, saddle sore and sun burnt, in search of cocktails. It was while I was reading by the pool, sipping my near-undrinkable-due-to-the-shear-amount-of-booze caipirinha that I discovered that the backs of my hands had too fallen victim to some rare sun exposure and reacted by coming up a rather brilliant shade of pink. Thankfully this was one part of me that didn't peel.

That night we had dinner at Nha Xanh- a German owned, water front restaurant boasting the best ice cream in Hoi An. I enjoyed a delicious feta filled ravioli with an arrabiata style sauce, two Mango Jack cocktails (mango, passionfruit and vodka. i think they made it using gelato as opposed to real fruit. Genius) and a scoop of passionfruit gelato. The owner, who also acts as the head chef, actually came out to ask the customers if everything was ok with their meals. It's my dad's favourite restaurant in Hoi An, which is saying something because it takes a lot for him to set foot in a non-traditional restaurant when overseas.

On Friday morning me and Steph relaxed at the Na Spa with a massage each. She tried the ninety minute hot stone therapy and I went for a sixty minute Swedish massage. We were in the massage room for about 30seconds when the masseuse turned to Steph and exclaimed "take off your blouse but keep your underwear." She was torn between being taken aback by the abruptness and being relieved that she was allowed to keep her underwear on.

With my extra time after my massage, I had a mani/pedi. When Steph came back down to wait while I got my nails did, they brought some delicious tea over to us. We both wanted to know what liquid concoction could taste so good so we asked what kind of tea it is. My nail attendant wasn't sure of the English word so she asked another member of staff, pointing at a chunk of ginger sitting on the front desk. The second girl picked up the ginger and held it out to Steph, with a look of deep confusion that clearly meant "why the fuck am I giving this crazy white woman a piece of ginger?" as the entire spa erupted into those cute giggles that only Asians seem to be capable of. When we'd calmed down a bit, the receptionist came over to us and quietly muttered "it's lemon tea."

 That afternoon I went on a quest for one of my favourite foods- Chicken Bahn Mi. Now I may have given a summary of these delicious rolls (commonly referred to as Mascot Rolls because there's place is Mascot that is so good at making them, they have a line out the front all day every day) in a previous post but just in case I missed some vital information, Bahn Mi are Vietnamese style bread rolls. You can get chicken, pork, pate, egg or even schnitzel with salad and various yummy goods like coriander, mayonnaise and soy sauce. It probably sounds completely bizarre but they're amazing. The bread it the perfect blend of crunchy and fluffy (Thanks to the French influence) the chicken is perfectly marinated and they're far more generous with their portions than, say, subway. And far cheaper- at Mascot it's $4.50 for a roll. Now unfortunately I discovered that there is nowhere to get chicken bahn mi in Vietnam. Only pork, pate or egg- none being things I enjoy eating. 

At 12:30pm we were picked up and transported in sweet air conditioning, on cushioned seats to Hoi An domestic terminal, where I was overjoyed to discover they sold my favourite (German) chocolate- Rittersport Knusperflakes, for about $4.50 for a 100g block.

Who says everything in Vietnam is cheap?

Coming up next- Hanoi

-m xx

1 comment:

  1. Awesome that you got to travel again. Vietnam isn't even a place I ever considered visiting. Is it nice? Come to think of it, I don't really know anything about Vietnam other than the war America got involved in way back when.