Beautiful Hoi An and Excellent Cooking Class

At 8:30 the next morning we arrived in Da Nang and a short car ride later we were in the small town of Hoi An. The very new and nice Sunshine Hotel was our home for the next four nights.

After a nap (that’s one of the best parts of taking a year off – you can nap whenever you want) we started to explore the old town of Hoi An which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town looks like a trading post a few centuries ago (minus the tourist shops and tailors) and is indeed very pretty and well preserved. It was a very welcomed contrast to the charmless scene in Nha Trang. All the houses had a lot of details and were very well preserved.

We loved our dinner at the Blue Dragon a restaurant who also helps street kids – eating for a good cause. What more can you ask for. Once the sun set all the lanterns were turned on and the town looked a bit like out of a fairy tale (or like a scene in Disneyland).

The next day Hazel was doing some work (thanks to her mobile office) and Kevin decided to have a further look around the old town. He discovered quite a few Chinese temples from different Chinese dialect groups such Hainanese and Cantonese. Already a few hundred years ago there were heavy trading activities between China and Vietnam. Besides that some parts of Vietnam have been ruled by different Chinese emperors on and off. Today the relationship between the two neighbors is once again quite tense partly due to the territorial argue about the Spratly Islands.Besides the temples there are a couple of old traditional houses open to public.

Rest, relax and organize was the theme for the next day. In the later afternoon we got some bicycles from our hotel and rode along some rice fields to the beach. The beach is so long that it reaches all the way to Da Nang.

In the evening we had another great dinner at Bale Well – a small restaurant in a side street. It didn’t have any menu but specializes in “roll your own spring-roll”. The food was extremely fresh and we enjoyed our food together with the locals.

For the next day we attended a half day cooking class at Green Bamboo Cooking School and it was a fantastic experience. The school is housed in Van’s house, a Vietnamese lady who is married to a Suede. Besides being a very good and knowledgeable cook she is also a super friendly person and it felt like you were cooking with a friend. The group was small – only 8 people and so we got the most out of it.

We started with a tour to the market where she explained us the different fruits, vegetables  and spices used in the Vietnamese cuisine. Once we had all our ingredients we moved to her house and started cooking. Each person was cooking one dish for the whole group and we loved the setting around the big working/eating area so that everybody was able to see what the other ones were doing. Soon the first dishes were ready to taste and they were delicious. Hazel cooked a nice curry chicken while Kevin prepared nice sugar glazed pork belly in a clay pot. As a special we made and tried Vietnamese bug salad – let’s say the taste was unique but not as bad as expected. What a great experience – a real highlight on our trip! Thanks Van!

As our stomachs were super full from all the yummy we food we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing.

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