Sunday, 29 April 2018

Vietnam, day 17: Liberating Cuba, One Drink at a Time

Hoi An, Vietnam
30 May 2017
On our second day in Hoi An, we had a slow start to the morning with a stroll. 
We were still unaccustomed to seeing so many attractive lanterns, and took too many photos accordingly.

For breakfast, we stopped at Espresso Station, where I enjoyed a refreshing strawberry lemonade, and Yannick had (can you guess?) ca phe sua da. From what I could tell, a speciality of the café was some sort of terrifyingly black and grainy drink that coated the teeth of those who were drinking it, making them look completely rotten.

Next up, we ran an errand! How un-holidayish. Except that it was a very holidayish errand, being that we were sending off a postcard to a loved one. The post shop itself was in a very old building, with a carved wooden ceiling and vintage fixtures.

Continuing our wanderings, we crossed the bridge to Cam Nam, the island that neighboured the one our hotel was on. The day was becoming very hot, and wasn't helped by the fact that a street we walked down had no shade, and many people were burning fake money by the roadside (so that their ancestors would have cash to blow in the afterlife). Fruit and flowers had been laid out along the way, and we saw that rice, candies and confetti had been thrown about, leading us to believe that perhaps there had been some sort of ceremony earlier that morning. Pathways off the main road led past houses down to the river, where locals moored their boats. There was more foliage by the river, which helped a little bit with the scorching sun, and we saw a beetle! It was bright blue, but in that metallic way that some bugs are.

As we walked further from the bridge leading to the old town, the more rural Cam Nam became, and we came across a greater proportion of fishermen, dirt paths, and trees (here's a jackfruit tree!). Eventually, we decided to turn back and the walk along the main, sun-soaked road felt like it took forever.

Crossing back into the old town, we passed by a few temples and found that the area just north of Cam Nam has a very French colonial feel, with the distinctive mustard-coloured buildings.

Like this!


Happening upon a tea shop, we were offered a free tasting and I jumped at the opportunity. The tea was quite delicate and fragrant, and even Yannick didn't mind it! (As he is a staunch tea-hater, that means that it was great tea.) I bought a lemongrass tea for Sue, one of our friends and former house sit hosts back in London.

Needing some sustenance and a break from the sun, we lunched at Karma Waters, a tiny vegan cafe. I opted for the burger, while Yannick slurped up a pho. The cafe's toilet was located in their back garden in an outhouse, and had no running water (only a bucket of water to pour in as a 'flush' function). We wandered around randoms streets some more on the way back to our hotel for a siesta. 

Dem lanterns, tho!
So aesthetic.

Some time later, we took a taxi to the beach: Bai Bien Cua Dai. After a brief episode of staring around helplessly, we found Bridget and Jance, and set off along the beach in search of a suitable hang out location. At regular intervals were different sets of beach chairs with umbrellas and little tables, each owned by a bar. Well...I say bar...it was more like a shack with one lady inside. We made our choice based solely on the fact that the lady seemed genuinely nice (and when you have so much choice, you kind of just have to pick one because weighing up the pros and cons of each would take far too much time). Each chair was 20,000VND, and we picked a few cocktails from the menu. It was my first time trying a banana daiquiri! Yannick was able to order his favourite cocktail: the Cuba Libre. When Bridget hired a towel from the beach shack lady, she sprinted off and over a dune, and we theorised that she may have been running to her home for unforeseen supplies. After all, with all that booze in the shack how could there be space for towels? After a while of lounging and watching the others swim, I saw a man leap into one of those small circular boats (a coracle). He used an oar, but not in the usual way. He kind of just wiggled it from side to side in a way that I thought was doomed to fail, but somehow was very effective! He clearly knows more about the physics of oars than I do.

With our beach itch scratched, we walked back towards the beach entrance and were surprised to find that it was swarming with beach-goers! Presumably, late afternoon was when all the locals flocked to the beach for a swim, just as we had experienced on Con Son island.

Finding a larger beachside bar (one that wasn't a shack), we ordered smoothies and milkshakes and rinsed the sand off our feet from a plastic water barrel.

Catching a taxi back to the old town, we wandered around some more (the crowds were out here too!).

A small night market had been assembled, and one guy on a motorbike flashed past us precariously balancing a tray of full soup bowls. He had to dodge so many people, and the soup was sloshing around a lot. Not your typical delivery service.

Dem lanterns, tho!!

For dinner, we met up with Bridget and Jance again and were the sole patrons of The Little Menu. The owner was a swell guy and waited on us hand and foot, recommending dishes to us as well as the Ancient Hoi An cocktail, which was delightful! I can safely say that it's in my Top 5 list of cocktails. I wish I could remember what was in it, but all I can say for certain was that it contained rum and passionfruit juice. We ate well, and after our meal the owner came over with a tray of chilled face cloths rolled up and declared them to be spring rolls! He had been cracking jokes all evening, which made the experience memorable.

We bid adieu to our friends, knowing that we would be seeing them early the next morning for an exciting expedition!
(Dem lanterns tho amiright?)