Chicken on tour: Hoi An

29 Aug

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Hoi An:

After another night on the Reunification Express (which links Ho Chi Minh City with Hanoi) from Nha Trang to Danang, we hopped a bus and about an hour later arrived in the town of Hoi An. I had heard a lot about this town, everyone I spoke to loved it. It’s also a town famed for its tailors (there are over 300. Now you know.)

It’s a picturesque little town, and they restrict it to pedestrians and human powered transport between certain hours. Having been in Vietnam for a whie, this silence and calm was greatly appreciated. It’s full of shops selling all sorts of souvenirs, as well as a food market down by the river. There were some definite bits of canine available for purchase at some stands. You will not be seeing any recipes for slow cooked Rover here. Across the road was the fish market, which transported me back to my previous life, my feet getting soaked with fish, water and ice. How I miss it.

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A group of us did a cooking class in one of the restaurants on our first evening. Many are available throughout the town. We prepared marinated beef salad, spring rolls and king fish marinaded with chilli and lemongrass cooked in banana leaves. All eaten with a great sense of satisfaction afterwards.

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We had an ungodly early start (5:30) the next day to visit the Cham tower ruins at My Son (seen above) about an hour from the town. My advice- stay in bed.

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Later that day some of us rented bikes and we headed off into the countryside. We cycled past fish farms, paddy fields and at one point, *we think* through someone’s house when we got a bit lost. It was brilliant. There were a few unfriendly dogs (Paul- you would not have liked, at all.)
After intentionally getting lost in the countryside we intentionally headed for An Bang beach. There are a few beaches near Hoi An. This is less mobbed and you won’t be pestered so much by the hawkers. There we went for a dip and enjoyed a few beers in Soul Kitchen/Bar overlooking the ocean.

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A few of us eager to get some Vietnamese food ventured towards The Mango Rooms for dinner that night. One of the group had sniffed it out and I’m glad he did. I had a great meal of spring rolls, followed by noodles, all washed down with a mango mojito. Our shared dessert of chocolate and banana won tons with coconut cream was a definite hit.

Best food area: All over town, especially down by the river at night.
Best meal: The Mango rooms
Best beer: Larue (Blue label- it’s delicious)
Best attraction: Getting lost on some bikes.

Tip: If you want shirts/suits/dresses made apparently this is one of the best places in the region. A friend got some dresses made here and says they’re deadly. If you don’t fancy hauling your new gear around Asia with you, many places in the town offer postage services by air and sea to get your stuff back home. I decided against getting any dresses made.

Next stop: Hue.