Hoi An

Day 1

Vietnam Airlines (VN311) Hanoi – Da Nang, Sat, November 13, 2:40pm – 3:55pm$85

We landed in Da Nang in the pouring rain where a car was waiting for us to take us to Phouc An Hotel. Our room wasn’t as nice as the last one and smelt very musty with some old stains on the sheets. We decided that our time here is going to be spent relaxing as the rain is pretty limiting. It’s not light rain, it’s torrential! We had dinner and a few bevvies at our hotel restaurant (we were the only ones) then had an early night.

Day 2

In the morning we braved the rain to go for a walk to the central markets and ancient town. Everything is very cute and old, reminding me a little of Yudanaka in Japan. There really are dozens and dozens of tailor shops and it is really hard to know which one to pick. We decided to pop into the one connected to our hotel and Emily is getting 2 nice and a bit more complicated dresses made of satin and chiffon made and Chris is getting some work pants. The dresses are not cheap but here’s to hoping we’re paying for awesome quality. We are going to go to another tailor to get some more standard and cheaper stuff. The markets are full of fresh produce that comes straight from the farms. Cute little old ladies with baskets of fish and vegetables huddle from the rain knowing life goes on, rain, hail or shine. Later that evening we went down by the river for a couple of cocktails. The river that was, only a few hours ago, contained to the banks had broken through and was up and over, past the first street and into the next. Amazing!

We went back to the tailor for a fitting. Chris’s pants fit really well. My black 1 shoulder dress will be nice after some adjustments I want them to make, but my green one is a disaster! They are going to remake it…fingers crossed. This has really ruined our moods. Between paying way too much for shitty dresses and the rain I hate this place!! But nothing an in-room massage can’t fix 🙂

Day 3

In the morning we went to the Morning Glory cooking school. We arrived at 8.30am and were taking on an excursion to the markets where we were taught about the different herbs, fruit and spices that are used in Vietnamese cooking. Back in the cooking room (above the restaurant) they went a bit further into the uses and nutritional value of the foods. Then we got cooking. Firstly we made Vietnamese spring rolls but with a little wonton wrapped fried shrimp in for cruchiness. Then we made Cao Lau (Vietnamese crispy pancakes) Then we made some BBQ chicken with lemongrass, garlic, shallots, fresh tumeric and a whole bunch of other stuff (we have the recipes). Then we made a green mango salad to go with it. After the class we were given a kind of knife that they use to shred things like the mango and lemongrass etc. We ate everything after we’d cooked it and it was so fun and so worth it.

Another fitting in the afternoon and the green dress is load better but not tops. Such a dissappointment! It feels like ground hog day here. Every morning we wake up too the rain pounding on the roof (and leaking through the ceiling in the hallways) and a bit sore from the bed, go down and have a lovely omlette for breakfast and contemplate the weather. Then put our raincoats on and grab our umbrellas and go out side and wade through the streets! Today the 2nd street back from the river was under, but it did stop raining. It’s amazing how much better you feel when the rain stops! There are loads of shops selling really nice paintings, amazing wood carving shops, lanterns and other arts and crafts and in most shops you can see someone working on the pieces.

We are really bad a bargining. It feels so mean. I think only a certain kind of person would be really good at it. When someone is looking at you with sad eyes saying please pay this much, please help me…it’s really hard to say no, eventhough you know this is what they do and how they live and work. We do manage say no most of the time, but sometimes we cave in! We have spent wayyyyyy too much money and we’re only half way.

We got some shoes made today. Chris got 2 pairs of leather work shoes and I got 2 dressey shoes. We went back in the evening to try them on, Chris’s fit perfectly (again) and mine were a bit too big so they’re going to remake them! We leave in the morning so I hope they fit perfectly. They are so cute and really affordable.

For dinner we went to this restaurant called the Streets, which is run by an American couple who use the money from the restaurant to put street kids through cooking and hospitality traineeships and give them food and accommodation. The food and service was the best, the calamari was the best we’ve ever had. We had entree and mains then entrees again!!

So off to Ho Chi Minh city tomorrow for a few days….can’t wait !