Goooood Morning Vietnam!
It’s so refreshing to be on a slow travel tour. Staying at the one Hotel where we can totally unpack, have our own room to spread out in and therefore have our own down time and also choose to join our scheduled activities or not.
Anna from Art Food Culture and her local (required) guide Yen have been taking us all through the local markets ! It chaotic and I love it.
We are staying on a small island about a 15 minute stroll or quicker cycle ride across the river to the yellow ochre town.
Whether we are heading to yoga or cycling to the beach exercise it has to be done early! Like before 6.30am otherwise it is just to hot. The cycle trip to An Bang beach is around 11 kilometres there are back. It’s a flat ride out of town past rice paddies, buffalo and the most smiling locals you have ever seen.
I didn’t get to see the sunrise, I got stuck in a funeral procession on the way, so I just enjoyed the sunny morning and the sound of the ocean and watching the locals all enjoy their swim. They have this whole area of open communal showers! It was hilarious to see. Did I tell you it’s 37 degrees and 150 % humidity ?
Below is the public swim area and all along the beach are these amazing beach clubs that are fairly new to this part of town, and I guess they need to keep up with the tourist demand. More expensive than the old town for drinks and food and obviously westernised. The Moyo Beach Club is one such new addition, where we enjoyed DJ music, cocktails and wonderful service from this new crew….. and the view and cool breeze ahhhhhh.
After yoga, or whatever you want to do we head to the market for coffee, and breakfast.
Sitting on tiny little red stools, everyone just shuffles around the tables and the women create the most amazing soup noodles !
I am so loving not having a buffet breakfast at our hotel. Anna is taking us to some of the most amazing little alleys and market areas and we are all embracing street food.
As this is a communist country Anna is required to have a local guide with us, just in case we try to take over their tourist market! Or something like that. Her name is Yen, and she accompanies us to our mornings in the old town and scheduled activities, she lives about 1 hour away and travels in to meet us each day.
Yen tells us the reason the colour yellow was originally chosen for this historic ancient town of Hoi An was because as this was a major trading port of yesteryear, the yellow could be easily seen from the ocean for ships and boats arriving into port. Yen then said yellow paint was cheap! Whatever the reason it is really quaint french style shutters and yellow buildings filled with local culture and cosmopolitan travellers from all over rate world- young, old, some on honeymoons and dressed in traditional clothes to create their wedding albums etc. Just being REALLY honest Anna gives us more local knowledge and history than the guide.
We wander through the town that wakes up early in the local market and a little slower in the old town. Anna takes us to an amazing Gallery of the photographer that we will have an afternoon with and we see his amazing cultural portraits of all these women he has photographed throughout Vietnam and created a gallery of the portraits with the traditional clothing they wear from each of their regions.
There is so much to see and we can all wander in our own time. Often our outings are followed by an early lunch – yes you guessed it in the market down a grungy alley way! After our morning activities and lunch, its home to the hotel for a few hours of rest and relaxation before our next activities.
Yesterday we meet another artist from Britain who is an expat living here. Bridgett March. Bridgett took us for a walk down a local alley and taught us about perspectives of drawing. After the alley we head across the road to a gorgeous assembly hall to draw and water colour. It’s a little tricky for me as I’m a lefty – left handed and left brain and I just don’t see what they see, and I absolutely love that.
Our guide Anna is also a trained artist and chef, so we love hanging out with her in the market and I really embrace her slightly looser style of urban sketching. Anna tells me my style is more like an illustration. I’m cool with that. Anna has her own Instragram page and stories that our little gang are currently staring in, so check out her page. Anna Barnes art food culture.
Late evenings are crazy busy, everyone just seems to go about their evening at the own pace, with cyclists and motorcyclist all beeping and bipping their way through the narrow laneways with crowds from all over the world. Some of the historic old town is walking only for this reason as a bus loads of tourists arrive from the nearby town of Da Nang about 50 minutes away.
We have only had one modern restaurant meal where we ate duck and drank red wine like westerners however dessert is another local drink, that is like cold soup. Not selling it to you ???? I get it and for someone like me who is extremely sensory things like jelly and squishy 🍈 fruit, I felt the fear and did it anyway!
The drink is so yummy! It’s lentils, legumes, some sort of jelly, small fruit and coconut cream on top over ice. No alcohol, and I’m sure high in sugar and hopefully the 36 degree heat and drinking 5 litres of water will suck that out of us! And of course as this tour is eco friendly, we asked for our drinks to be in glass and sat and drank them with our bamboo straws.
Now there is an experience sitting on little red stools that look like they may break eating soup noodles with tender pork and a little chilli for breakfast lunch and dinner.
We are all loving it… and it is really amazing to see the surrounds just outside the town close to where we are staying. Although last night Anna took us off the beaten track under the bridge in the dark past the local homeless man and his cows along the new pier to a restaurant! Just so safe here and no one feels out of their comfort zones.
We went to the My Son Ruins today, by bus approx 1 hour from town. The bus left the hotel at 6.00am and we were at the ruins by ourselves for at least half an hour before a few other early birds arrive.
We sat under a tree had an art lesson of drawing blind where you don’t look at the page but draw never lifting your ink pen and then you colour wash it. Lots of fun. As we left in the stinking 10.00am sun loads of buses filled with uni students and tourists arrive……. Thank you Anna it was just divine to be there without the crowds.
We then got to wander around these giant old ruin Temples that were abandoned with the American War after being bombed, to now being heritage relics. Pretty cool to see them all clustered together almost like a movie scene in the jungle of South East Asia, and considering this area was defoliated with agent orange etc. it made my heart smile to see that it’s all green and lush and filled with butterflies 🦋 , giant worms 🐛 ants 🐜 Chameleon lizards 🦎. It was like Bugs Life meets Tomb Raider! Ok that is probably a little bit of my imagination just so wonderful to see.
I’m now enjoying the peace, air con and just had a nana nap before we head to town to take on the tailors and shops, check out the lanterns to bring home and you guessed it have street food locally for dinner. There is some more pics on my instagram story and page.
Lush and green foliage surrounds the ruins￼￼￼￼
Till next time a very chilled Mrs Wong x