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Travel Diaries: Hoi An – Part 2

Image of Hoi An food market, Coconut Bay tour, and lantern festival

Dates: 03/02 – 04/04

I finally made it to my homestay. Tired and exhausted, and after my experience so far, not expecting much. I was greeted by Long, the owner of Trường Thịnh Homestay Hội An, with a massive smile. He gave me tips on where to go and even texted me the next day to remind me to let him know if I needed anything.

The room was beautiful – spacious and so clean you could eat off the floor. The bed was enormous – three people could have easily slept on that. Comfortably, may I add. There was toilet paper, shower gel, and shampoos in the bathroom – a nice touch. 

This flipped the switch on how I was feeling about Vietnam so far. It was the start of what would become the best couple of days of my life.

If you’re ever in Hoi An, I would recommend Long’s homestay a million times over. He together with his beautiful wife and angel daughters made me feel right at home. 

I was exhausted, so I set my stuff down and walked to the closest restaurant, which was only a few meters away from Long’s homestay. I ate pork rolls and noodles for dinner. Yum. I’m starting to love Vietnamese food at this point. 

I woke up the next morning ready for my tour, which included a market tour, a boat ride, and a cooking class. The first thing I saw as I left the homestay was a beautiful rice field and an ox feeding on the grass. Big kid here – I got overly excited and took around 30 pictures of the ox before continuing on my walk. 

I had breakfast and walked to the meeting point, where I met the first couple who were part of the group. A German man and a Japanese woman, who, get this, met in Malta. What a sweet coincidence! They had been travelling together for 2 years, which I thought was awesome. It was also really nice to speak to people who have fond memories of my country. 

We met our guide, Linh, who started us off with a tour of the local market. She explained the difference between the various spices, fruit, vegetables, and even eggs. Anyone who follows me knows how much I love cooking, so learning all these new details about Vietnamese cuisine was an incredible experience. Linh also picked up some items that we would later use in our cooking class.

Next, we got into a mini-van and drove to Coconut Village, which is a beautiful riverside known for its coconuts. We got into little bamboo boats and rode across the river for 40 minutes. The old woman rowed us right up to a live show, where one man was spinning around in his boat, giving everyone a show to remember. 

We made our way back to find that Linh had set up everything for our cooking class with Hoi An Cooking School. We learnt how to make a rice paper roll filled with pork and vegetables, a rice pancake, and noodles. We also had a dessert that was made with green beans and coconut milk. I enjoyed every minute of it – making and eating the food alike.

This was the end of our tour. The van dropped us back at our meeting point, which is when Linh offered to help me buy coffee. Did I mention I love the coffee here? It’s to die for. So obviously, I wanted to buy some to take back with me. Linh was so kind to take me back to the market and help me buy a few bits and bobs that I wanted to take back home with me. Thank you Linh!

Linh offered to give me more recommendations but I wanted to explore the city. She showed me the direction of the old town and I went on my way. There were so many beautiful lanterns everywhere. The city of lanterns indeed. I was already looking forward to the lantern-making class I had scheduled for the next day. 

I got lost in the beauty of Hoi An. I walked the streets aimlessly as I took pictures of the lanterns, the river, and the architecture. I bumped into a woman who introduced herself as Autumn. Hoi An is known for its tailors, and Autumn was one of them. She told me about the lantern festival that evening and then asked me if I would like to buy a dress. I thought there was no harm in seeing what she had to offer so I followed her to her shop.

Diệp is the name of the shop. Autumn and her sister showed me catalogues filled with different styles of dresses, shorts, trousers, and tops. I chose a pair of shorts and a top and they immediately took me to look at the materials. I chose some that are not my typical style because I believe in going outside my comfort zone, and this looked like the perfect opportunity to do so.

They told me to go back at 6 o’clock. It was 4 o’clock so I decided to walk around. I met a wonderful English lady on the way and we decided to go for a coffee together. This is when I met a little iguana. It was caged, of course, but it’s me, and I went crazy over the reptile. Its owner saw my awe and took it out of the cage. He let me hold it – I was over the moon.

We moved on and sat down for coffee at this cute little place called Home Taste, which is where I tried both the coconut coffee and the egg coffee. I loved both. Coffee, coffee, coffee, I just can’t get enough of the stuff. The owner, Chris, was really nice to us and told us stories about his family. He mentioned a boat tour that celebrated the lantern festival, which was happening that evening (how lucky was I?!), and I decided to go. 

So I went to pick my outfit up and made my way to the boat trip. Being out on the river in that atmosphere, seeing all those lanterns, and putting mine into the river is an experience I will never forget. You’re supposed to make a wish when setting your lantern free, and I wished for something very special. That’s a secret though, it won’t come true if I told you!

The last thing on my list was to eat Cao Lao, a typical dish of Hoi An that Autumn recommended I try. It was gorgeous – noodles with pork and dried sourdough. Absolutely amazing.

I went back to Long’s homestay after that. What a wonderful day. I took many pictures of the beautifully lit lanterns along the way. The entirety of the Vietnamese culture was starting to hit me. I loved it there.

The adventure continues. Hang on for Part 3 of my Hoi An adventures, where we go from taking pictures of the lanterns to making one ourselves.

You can find photos of my Hoi An experience on the official Alpha Content Instagram page. Follow @the_life_of_a_creative_writer for more.

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