Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hellooooo Hoi An!

Hey everyone, sorry for the long delay, but here is the second part from my Vietnam trip last month! From Ho Chi Minh we hopped on a plane to Da Nang and then took a car ride over to our next destination Hoi An. Our first day we decided to rent some bicycles and ride 3 kilometers to the beach. The weather was overcast and windy, but not too cold overall. We got to ride along side rice patties, cranes, and the occasional farmer.

Once we got to the beach we were immediately confronted by 3 women along the path, each trying to flag us down to their separate bike parking areas. The closest woman to us told us the others were asking for the same price and she INSISTED we park in her lot while the other women were in the background yelling "Welcome, please come here!" and waving us towards their area. We ended up going with the first lady and as soon as we moved our bikes to her side she was all smiles and started cackling, like she had just outsmarted the other women. Her laughter was infectious. We were laughing in confusion and amusement at this lady, who took such joy in stealing some customers.

It was not the warmest of beach days but I still really enjoyed the whole atmosphere. There was practically nobody else there and the wind was very dramatic.

Don't look now, but I'm stealing your big idea! Side note: who throws their light bulbs into the ocean?!

I'm going to do a graceful jumping shot like I see on Pinterest!

Nailed it!

Noting that jumping wasn't my forte after all, I decided to just stand. 
Since we were pretty much the only tourists available in the area, we got invited by all of the cafes to "Please come here! Have a coffee!" We found a nice table with a clear view of the beach to enjoy some iced coffees. As soon as we sat down the jewelry ladies honed in with their wares. Need to go to an ATM for cash? No problem! One of the ladies took Amanda on her motor bike to the ATM and back!

Feeling like a local
We returned to the cackling bike lady to pay and pick up our bikes.She hugged us all again and we asked for a picture. This led to more laughing and embraces and ended with her squeezing Diane exclaiming "I'm your Vietnam mama!"

Nobody could resist laughing.

I'm your Vietnam Mama!

Oh, we don't have the fabric you want for custom made pants? Hop on! We will got to the fabric shop!
 While in Hoi An we all decided to get some cloths tailor made. I got a dress and a jacket made just for me. Amanda and Diane got some local comfy pants. Hoi An is known for their tailors and you could pretty much just bring a picture of what you want, and they could whip it up for you. My dress was made from a photo of an Anthropolgie dress. Many guys were in the shops getting custom suits tailored. Along with making cloths, they could also make custom shoes and bags!

Hoi An had a much more serene atmosphere around town. It was still busy in the tourist areas, but the roads had more space and less traffic. It was so nice to be able to experience quiet streets. Even in Korea I rarely do not hear traffic going by. It was a relaxing break away from the big city hustle and bustle. Another aspect I love about Hoi An is all the beautiful lanterns dangling off of buildings and trees. Lanterns come in all colors and shapes and they were especially pretty reflecting off the water in the old part of town.

Hoi An wontons: fried wonton wrapper topped with shrimp, mango and crab. 

All boats on the river had eyes painted on the bow.

Selling wish lanterns to float down the river.

The next day we had our half day cooking class at Red Bridge Cooking School. It starts off in the morning at the local market, where your guide tells you about all the fresh food there. 

Yay fresh produce!

Yes, that is a pigs face on a table.

The fresh herb area smelled sooooo good!

Mostly women are vendors at the market because they are believed to be better hagglers.

All the locals shop at the market. 

Next we got taken to the cooking school by boat! The cooking school is located right next to the river. Once we arrived we took a tour of the school's organic garden where they grow a lot of their herbs and vegetables.

Next we where taken into an open air cooking hut where we watched the chef prepare food on the "Vietnamese television" that was an angled mirror on the ceiling so everyone could see how to make their dish. After watching the demonstration we were put to work on our own food.
Vietnamese television
Time to flip the Vietnamese pancake!

Pancake all rolled up in toasty rice paper and ready to eat!

Shredded veggies for the green mango seafood salad.

Spring rolls! I hand made the rice paper too!

How to properly make a tomato rose.
Our attempts at tomato roses and cucumber fans.
After assembling all of our dishes, we went back to the dining room where the cooks had plated our food for everyone to have lunch. We had a great time with the other cooking students and instructors. Everyone was friendly and funny and I think it was a well executed program.

 After lunch we did our usual walk around a little bit before sitting somewhere for drinks. At this point we're all getting a little too comfortable with each other and things are starting to get weird. (In the best possible way)

That night we went out for an 'expensive' meal at Morning Glory. For multiple appetizers, a drink, main course and dessert we all spent about $15 each. 
You could watch ladies cooking from our table.

The next morning we had our morning pho and iced coffee before going back to the airport to fly to Hanoi.

Stay tuned for the upcoming Hanoi post. Cheers!

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