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Published: March 1st 2018
Our grand daughters gleefully yell out “again” when they’ve been bounced, thrown, chased or teased. Happy things should be done again.
We loved Hoi An when we first visited five years back and after a flight to Danang and 45 min drive, we arrived back here. This time staying at an AirBnB on the island across the river, and it feels familiar but new. Even with the bridge, the markets are closer to us than at our last hotel. Our hosts are joyful and eager to recommend places and people. A day in and we feel like we’re discovering whole new aspects of this UNESCO heritage site.
The temps are noticeably cooler - under 30 during the day and dropping to mid to low 20s at night. Restaurants are most often open air, feeling like you’re eating outdoors whether you have a roof over you or not. Last night was the first I thought a sweater might have been a nice touch.
We asked at our lodging to reserve pedal bikes for tomorrow. Ruby replied that we are too fat and should take a scooter. Said without a hint of heat, just concern and kindness. Made for a
good laugh too.
Our visit to Vy tailors, out of the centre of the fabric district, resulted in an order bigger than we anticipated. The diminutive tailor stretched her arms above her head to reach our shoulders and close in to reach around our midriffs. The people in general, including visitors, are lean and the locals are petit in stature. The waist of many men would be less than 20”. This has served as a gentle reminder to us to work on some shrinkage of our own selves. This is a great place to do it.
Food here is fabulous and largely healthy. John has pho (Vietnamese soup) at least once a day. Noodles, rice paper wraps, spring rolls, chicken, seafood or pork often marinated and grilled on skewers are common on menus. When your meal is delivered, a large plate is also brought laden with lettuce, sprouts, mint, cilantro and various other greens and herbs - not to be added into the hot items, but to be picked up with your chop sticks with the fish or meat and placed in your mouth at the same time. Breakfasts often offer pho, eggs prepared as you
prefer, rice or noodles and some crusty french loaf bread, a skill-legacy of the French colonists of days gone by. It takes little effort to avoid dairy and white flour almost completely.
Typically we avoid fresh veg and greens when on the road. We’ve continued to eat them often here, and perhaps because we are in areas where tourism is foundational to the area, we have not had any intestinal mishaps to date. We continue to wash all the fruit we pick at up markets - oranges, rambutans, mangos, bananas - in a Sunlight bath in our room. We also use our Steripen to sterilize tap water wherever we go - long proven to work over travels from Peru to India. Also keeps a lot of plastic water bottles from joining those drifting in rivers, clogging street drains, and on - hard to see the amount of garbage strewn in some areas.
John struck up a chat with an chap with the most fantastic face - Captain Dan, as he introduces himself. They had a great chat and we later hire him for an hour boat ride on the river - on the map given to us by
our hosts it is called “River”. A delightful, sparkly-eyed man with only a few teeth, popping like islands spaced around his gums. He was a Buddhist monk during the American War (known to us as the Vietnam War), left the monk hood to take care of his aging mother for 10 years. Married his wife in his early 40s and now has two children, one with Down’s Syndrome. The quote of the day came from him as he talked about being able to tell happy people. Open hearts make people happy, we’re told. As he uses his fingers near his heart to unfold something like a lotus blooming, he says, ”I pray for open”.
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