Early morning beach and market and Master Chef Goes Large...in Hoi An
28.03.2007 - 29.03.2007 34 °C
We love it in Hoi An. It is very relaxed and laid back. The buildings are old, the streets are atmospheric and the people are kind and helpful. We have really slowed down and started to get into the Vietnamese way of life (lots of hanging around!). Any minute you expect Clint Eastwood to ride down the street on horseback. We went to the bank today and it was just like something out of a Western - a man sitting in a room behind some iron bars, with all the money in a wooden box in a drawer by his side. Jackie got very nervous because there was a man behaving suspiciously behind us as we cashed in twice his average annual earnings.
(Lots more pics of your daughter this time, as requested, John and Sue)
Yesterday we got up early to avoid the heat and set off on our bikes to Cua Dai Beach about 3 miles away. This is where all the European sun-worshippers go - a strip of white, palm-fringed beach stretching as far as the eye can see. 'Banana boats' chugged slowly by and a man tried (and failed) to singlehandedly catch some fish only yards from the beach. We messed around here for a while and then cycled back for breakfast.
We stopped on the way to drink from a fresh coconut...
Today Matt, Jackie and David all got up early (the girls didn't fancy it!) and went to the market. Fantastic. Suddenly us tourists played second fiddle for a change. Women pushed past us to get the best fish and shellfish coming off the boat, vegetables were arriving from the fields - people were huddled around their pots and having breakfast - it was an amazing hubub!
Matt was intrigued by the small shark on one of the stands and in awe of the huge knives for sale (and in use). Health and Safety is certainly not an issue here. We also found out why so many of the old women we have seen have disgusting black teeth - they chew beetle juice, with a bit of banana leaf and some clam shell paste - all for sale at one of the stalls in the market, but we declined to try it!
Laura, I tried to lose Jackie to make this blog a bit more exciting but she managed to find her way back to the hotel!
We stopped at a market stall and sampled some delicious 'Banh Khoai' (egg and rice flour crepes stuffed with shrimp, pork and beansprouts - a local speciality) straight from the the frying pan. Even Matt liked it.
Later this morning we went to our Vietnamese Master Chef class - just the five of us in a waterfront restaurant, cooking a classic Hoi An three course meal of Hoi An Spring Rolls, Sweet and Sour Fried Wanton, Barbequed Fish in Banana leaves and Stir- Fried Squid.
We all did everything - from cutting up the vegetables to slicing open the fresh Mackerel and stuffing it. Matt and Livvy had to bash up garlic, lemon grass and ginger in a pestle and mortar on the floor and Emma had to squeeze Kumquats. It was a great hands- on experience preparing and cooking it.
Then we ate it all in the front of the restaurant, overlooking the river. Olivia said it was the best meal she has ever tasted - and everyone had some squid! We are at last ALL starting to eat Vietnamese.
Then after a busy afternoon doing absolutely nothing, we popped out for a pre dinner drink!