Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Days 26 thru 31 - Hoi An, Vietnam

Written by Em

           The next 4 days were spent biking and motor-scootering throughout this peaceful beach town. Unbeknownst to us, Hoi An’s main tourist attraction are its tailor-made clothes and shoes. To be honest, it’s a bit overwhelming if you don’t have a particular piece of clothing or shoe in mind. As we strolled through the Old Town, we were constantly offered custom made pants, shirts, dresses and anything else we wanted in less than 2 hours. In the end, Ariel was the only one brave enough to have 2 pairs of shoes and a pair of parachute pants made. The shoes required a bit of tweaking, but in the end turned out more-or-less how she wanted them. Other tourists left Hoi An with a few extra suitcases full of their new custom wardrobes. Maybe we’ll have to come back…
The lovely yellow buildings and lantern-lined streets of Hoi An

One of the many tailor shops in Hoi An
The lanterns on the river -  a pleasant area for a midsummer night's stroll

           Hoi An is known as Vietnam’s foodie heaven, so Ariel and I decided this would be a great place to attend a cooking class. We opted for a half-day class taught by Ms. Vy , the owner of 3 well-known restaurants and a hotel in Hoi An. Her parents opened the first restaurant in Hoi An. We started the Morning Glory Cooking School class with a tour of the seafood, vegetable, fruit and herb markets. Following the tour we returned to the restaurant where Ms. Vy taught us 5 different dishes; cabbage soup with shrimp mousse parcels, fresh spring rolls with pork and shrimp, BBQ chicken thighs, a traditional Vietnamese pancake (think Vietnamese version of a taco), and a fresh mango salad. It was a great experience and a great lunch! We have all the recipes plus some and a souvenir Vietnamese peeler. Ariel and I plan to open a Vietnamese food cart when we get back – all the shredded papaya and mango you can eat!
The many fresh herbs for sale at the local market - one of them actually tastes like fish

One of Ariel's creations

Ariel really excited about Ms. Vy's food - cooked by actual trained chefs

           We spent the afternoon at the ancient Cham city of My Son. These Hindu Temples and inscriptions were constructed between the 4th and 14th century by the kings of Champa. The 70 some odd temples were used for religious ceremonies by royalty and also as a burial place for royalty and national heroes. My Son is the longest inhabited archaeological site in Indochina, however a majority of the temples were destroyed by American bombs during the Vietnam War.
Feeling  little overwhelmed by a proper sized motorcycle, Ariel opted for the more pint-sized scooter

Ancient inscription in Sanskrit, the official language of the Cham people who moved to Vietnam from India in the 4th Century

One of the ancient ruins not destroyed by bombs - no one knows how the bricks were carved so perfectly without breaking

           In an attempt to make ourselves feel better, we decided to get massages. Ariel, again being the bravest, opted for a full body massage, while Dan and I went for foot massages. We should’ve known by the lukewarm foot soak with un-dissolved bath salts that we picked the wrong place. We were instructed to join Ariel in the massage room and take off our pants. Dan and I were a bit confused and confirmed that we were only here for a foot massage. I believe in the 60 minute massage, they only actually touched our feet for about 2 minutes in total. The rest of the time was spent rubbing our legs, which felt, as Dan described, like a rug burn. Poor Dan, his masseuse had long finger nails and scratched his legs, even after he repeatedly pointed out how painful it was. Ariel wasn’t fairing any better and came out with a sore back.

           Still covered in baby oil that wouldn’t wash off, we spent our last day on the beach before flying back to Hanoi.

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