I’m not sure where to begin with Hoi An. I know I previously said Phong Nha was my favourite place, however Hoi An has quite easily knocked it off the top spot.
Vietnam only became an independent country in 1954 under the reign of Ho Chi Minh. Prior to this, the Chinese, Japanese and French all colonised the country. A lot of towns across Vietnam have a French influence, but Hoi An was the only one I’ve seen with a mix of eras including wooden Chinese houses, French colonial buildings and even a Japanese bridge and Pagoda. With the lake also running through the centre and lanterns lighting the streets at night, it was hard not to fall in love. Additionally our hostel called Under the Coconut Tree was right by a stunning beach. All these combinations together, I could have easily stayed for the rest of my visa!
On the Sunday, Vinny, Georgia, Harrison, Jaisohn and I explored the town, with the boys going off to get tailored made shirts (which Hoi An is renowned for), while Georgia and I drank chocolate shakes, watching the world go by. The evening we rented bicycles (as our hostel was 5km from the town centre) and went for a vegan dinner, which was super cheap and tasty. After eating some suspicious meat, I’ve spent majority of the trip vegetarian. I do however occasionally eat meat, but it’s dependent on the place.
After dinner we were lured into a bar with free beer, shisha and a pool table. A few games of pool later, we headed to the night market for an after dinner treat – mine was a banana pancake.
Monday 6th March
I was very keen to do a cooking class in Hoi An as I love eating, so convinced the boys to do it with me. On recommendation, we booked the class through a restaurant called Morning Glory, which is the name of a famous vegetable dish in Vietnam. The restaurant itself was the first in Hoi An to offer cooking classes, so we were happy to pay a little extra (£25) to go there.
I got up early (for another workout and to see the sunrise), then we rented bicycles and cycled to a indoor food market/restaurant called Vy’s Market for 8.15am. We started the class exploring the markets, learning about the various local foods. It was good to finally put a name to some of the fruits I had been seeing everywhere.Back in Vy’s market, we tried our hands at a variety of skills including making Banh Mi, which is a famous sandwich across Vietnam and cutting noodles. It was a lot harder than the experts made it look. We then tried weird and wonderful foods, including jellyfish, pig ears, pig brain, silk worms (which I had already tried in Sapa) and duck embryo which freaked me out. I only tried the yoke as I didn’t fancy eating a unformed baby duck! After exploring the various other stalls, we than began my favourite bit – the cooking and eating. We made local dishes including shrimp soup, Banh Xeo pancakes, marinated chicken and mango salad. All was incredible 👌. I was actually quite proud of my dishes, which now I have the recipe for, have no excuse to not try at home. The class was so jam packed and fun, I have since ‘passed it forward’ to other backpackers. To anyone else going to Hoi An I highly recommend, another highlight of my trip so far.
We ended up booking an extra night in Hoi An as honestly we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave. It meant we had time to explore further out to a place called My Son, which is a 7th century ancient ruin that was bombed during the war.
The ruin was an hour and 45 minute drive so biting the bullet, it was about time I learnt how to ride a scooter as it wasn’t fair on Georgia me always being on the back (especially for that long). We rented the scooters and Harrison took me for a quick drive around the block. Already knowing how to drive, I picked it up quickly and we headed off. The ride was so much fun and I actually enjoyed it more than the ruins. It wasn’t because My Son wasn’t fascinating, it was just so hot and humid, it was tough walking around. The evening we stayed at the hostel and Harrison taught me how to play Gin Rummy and I taught him classic Rummy. I had missed playing cards – which I usually play with my Grandma and Dad on a Sunday.
Wednesday 8th March
We said goodbye to Georgia and Harrison on Wednesday as they were biking down the country, which if I had my time here again, I would 100% do (after getting my bike license at home obviously 😉).
The morning was spent on the beach chilling, then lunchtime we went to the Kebab Shack for a cup of proper British tea and a kebab, which was amazing. One not to miss in Hoi An. Vinny and I then began our 20 hour bus journey to Da Lat. If you read my previous post about my ‘accident’, it was actually on the last leg of the bus ride that it happened. So watch this space!
One last thought, if you’re ever thinking of going to Vietnam – I hope I’ve convinced you not to miss Hoi An.
Jessica Storm ✌️