Friday, September 4, 2015

Hoi An, Vietnam, Part 3: A Post Dedicated To Food

I woke up in the morning and decided to move on from Hoi An given I'd ideally like to see other parts of Vietnam (because honestly, I'd stay here forever if I could). That's how magical this has been: I woke up, decided to leave, booked a night bus through my hostel, and booked a hostel in the next city I decided to go to (Dalat).  Is this how freedom feels? Anyhow, the ride to Dalat is 16-hours by bus (YES. 16 HOURS. How is that even possible!? Didn't even know they existed) and is overnight; so I had a full last day in Hoi An.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • I met Amanda around 11am for a cooking class we'd signed up for the day before. I made my first big error by eating breakfast at the hostel beforehand because as you'll see later on, HOLY FOOD.  
  • Biked to the cooking class, which was called Morning Glory (they're a restaurant as well) and met with our teacher, Trang. The entire operation was super involved. First, we walked around the complex and tasted different kinds of Vietnamese food, put into categories such as "everyday workers' food", "exotic and weird", "specialties", etc.
I believe the silk worm salad fell under the "exotic and weird" category
Also, everything is spicy. Lemongrass beef. Spicy. Tiny snails. Spicy.
  • Then we got to "make" some of the most well-known dishes ourselves.
    Attempting to pull noodles out of the noodle-pulling machine
Making banh xeo - crispy pancake things made with rice flour, coconut milk, tumeric, shrimp and pork
Amanda and I with our banh xeos (is that how you pluralize banh xeo, do you think)
Also, you would not believe the sheer amount of oil these babies use
Our cooking teacher and our leaf placemats
I can also confidently say I did not miss my calling as a noodle chopper
  • After minimal amounts of cooking, we were then sat at a table and proceeded to eat all of Vietnam in one sitting. Seriously, the sheer number of dishes had me regret eating breakfast at all.  I almost died from eating, true story. 
First up, our banh xeo - which you wrap in rice paper because apparently you can never get enough rice

Bun cha! My favorite. Pork and greens and shiz wrapped in rice paper
Making spring rolls!

This is my very pretty spring roll I wrapped. Except for the asymmetrical shrimp.

Then green papaya salad. Is this course #4 or 5?!

Then Cao Lau, a noodle dish specific to Hoi An. The noodles were fat and delicious, kind of like square udon - and were definitely not the ones we had chopped earlier (those probably ended up in the trash)
This was something we made too but I can't remember what it is. I just remember spreading rice flour into a patty and then spreading pork on top and then cooking it in a banana leaf. And there was apparently an ungodly amount of grease

  • And then we got served dessert. I told you we ate all of Vietnam.
  • After class, Amanda headed back to her hotel to catch a flight to Saigon, while I spent the rest of the afternoon biking around Hoi An one last time. September 2nd is Vietnamese Independence Day, so the streets were fairly quiet and empty.  

Oh, you wanted to see another 100 photos of the streets of Hoi An?! Great.
So pretty
And then I rode down by the river
My super fly bike

I was even a good tourist and did a little sightseeing!  This is a famous old house in Hoi An that's been passed down 7 generations. Back when Hoi An was a bustling port city, this was owned by a wealthy merchant family and they used a ton of elements of Chinese and Japanese design in their house. The descendants still live upstairs but the first level is open for tourists
  • After picking up my new clothes and biking thoroughly through the city, I caught a night bus from the hostel at 5pm.  First off, Vietnamese night buses are no joke. They involve these personal lounger seats that basically recline almost the entire way - and there's two stories of them in each bus. The whole thing is rather cozy, and given that I have no problems with night buses anyway because I am a freak of nature, I slept most of the way.  
Two levels of weird lounge-y seats
And then at night, the lighting turns straight-up nightclub

At a rando rest stop, some of the guys got accosted by tiny Vietnamese children doing the lion dance for Independence Day
  • Bye, Hoi An! Definitely one of the best cities I've visited, with some of the best memories. 

Fun Facts of the Day:
  • In Vietnam (and Myanmar as well), the car horn doesn't mean the same as it does in the States. From what I've observed, it means anything from "Hi I'm approaching you'" to "I'm passing you!" to "I'm just driving!" to "Don't turn!" to "I'm bored and just like honking!"  Seriously, most bus/van/bike journeys involve a crap tom of swerving and constant, incessant honking. They will honk for any reason. Even if another car is parked to the side of the road, our bus would honk like crazy while passing just to let it know. Apparently this prevents some people from sleeping on the buses...but well, not me (earplugs have been one of my saving graces on this trip).
  • On another fun bus fact, they have you take off your shoes and put it in a Baggie before getting on the bus. Cute.
  • "Thank you" in Vietnamese is "gahm urn", but said in a very tonal manner

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