Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hoi An

I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Hoi An to be perfectly honest,
from the write up Lonely Planet gave it. Other than the tour out to
the My Son ruins I wasn't expecting too much aside from the old
buildings and some nice meals.
But it has by far been my favourite city in Vietnam that we have
visited. The town is very quiet by comparison Hanoi and even Hué. It's
old buildings are on the Unesco Heritage List and rightly so. There
are many streets of them pretty much unchanged for many hundreds of
The next thing I liked about Hoi An is the food! It's sooo good (with
a little help from our trusty Lonely Planet guide book). Both mentions
of the food and buildings of Hoi An are so pleasantly understated by
Lonely Planet, I had such a wonderful surprise once we got there and
actually experienced them. If you, wait, WHEN you come to Vietnam you
can't miss Hoi An and two restaurants. One is Bele Well where a very
hospitable Mai practically stuffs you full of authentic Vietnamese
cuisine, while teaching you basic Vietnamese lessons and customs.
"Mot, hai, ba,YO!" (1, 2, 3, CHEERS! roughly translated) She is quite
the charmer and puts on a superb feast. It's a meal you will NEVER
forget. You will come away with a fuller mind, belly and heart. The
people are what has made Vietnam so special to me (I'm pretty sure
Katie feels the same way) and Mai is one particular person that stands
out. Not forgetting the beautiful old lady from the rice museum in Hué.
But I digress. The other restaurant is Truc Vien just around the
corner from our hotel. It was so good when I saw other travellers
walking by to consider the menu is was telling them how good it was.
And then the next day we went back there for lunch again, the family
we ushered in and another couple who came after them, were all there
again for lunch. I had a wonton soup the first time and the second
time I had a sweet and sour pork which was more spicy than sweet and
sour bit it was absolutely delicious. Katie had the Hoi An specialty,
cao lau which is doughy flat noodles mixed with croutons, bean sprouts
and greens, topped with pork slices and served in savoury broth.
Apparently the real thing can only be had in Hoi An as the water for
cao lau noodles must come from Ba Le well.

Another main attraction of Hoi An and BIG drawcard for a lot of its
vistors are the tailors who can put together any clothes or outfit you
want in just a matter of days, perfectly tailored to fit in the finest
materials for less than it would cost to buy some nasty polyester/
nylon garments from kmart. I got a couple of silk cotton fitted
shirts, a couple of pants for work anf another pair for going out and
a 'Hugo Boss' suit made out of a wool silk blend. Katie got a really
flattering fitted french cuff shirt, two pairs of pants, a nice
floraly top with a deep round collar that almost comes off the
shoulder, a really nice white shirt that has rolled up, button up
cuffs and a beautiful fitted casual jacket. Lots of beautiful clothes
ready for...winter...(cough) but knowing Melbournes weather we will
probably get plenty of wear out of them on our return. =P The ladies
at Silk Road were wonderful. There was one particular lady who's name
I never found out who was so lovely. She spoke very good English even
though she finished school at 10. From what we could tell, she also
spoke spanish and was learning to play the piano in between customers.
We had a good chat with her about many things. The rat race that
people in Australia seem to be so hypnotized by, Vietnam and the
Vietnamese peoples plight were some of the topics that I remember.

How we found out about Silk Road was from some aussie travellers going
the opposite direction to us on the way to Hoi An from Hué, who were
very happy with their clothes also.

I'm noticing that we are meeting lots of nameless faces on this trip.
I really should make more of an effort to find out peoples names. Like
the Dutch couple that we kept on bumping into throughout Hué and Hoi
An and the Spanish and german couples who we kept crossing paths with
since Ha Long bay. All with no names.

1 comment:

  1. mmm the food sounds so good. Rob and I had Pho last night in your honour :P nah not really, we had it cos we were hungry!

    miss you guys!