Oliver and I are now on Day 6 and in Hoi An, but due to the craziness detailed in my last post, I never actually posted about what we DID on Day(s) 2 & 3 & 4. So here it is! (Some of it, anyways.) Please note: we don’t have good enough wifi to upload photos at the moment, so this post will just be text. I’ll post the corrosponding photos (with captions) ASAP!
On Day 2 we both woke up around 5 AM in our AirBnb, which isn’t too bad considering the 14-hour time change. We wandered around the neighborhood until we found a coffee shop where we could wile away a few hours until Cameron woke up, and decided to go with a chain shop called Highlands Coffee. And ohhhhh the coffee – I love love LOVE the coffee. As far as I can tell, Vietnamese coffee is generally intensely dark and bitter drip coffee, which can be served as is, on ice, with sugar, or my personal favorite… With condensed milk. Iced ‘milk coffee’ is sweet and slightly dense, but still full of coffee flavor. It’s the basically the exact opposite of most foofy Starbucks drinks that aim to cover up the coffee flavor with excessive sweetness – the bitter coffee is still there, but so is the sweetness of the condensed milk. Yum.
Once Cameron was awake, we met him and his friend Marjorie for brunch at a Western restaurant called L’uisines – I had one of the best BLTs I’ve had in a while, more coffee, and fresh juice. It was great meeting Marjorie and hearing her talk about the city – she’s a Huntington Beach native who has also lived in Vancouver BC, and now lives in HCMC running a tailoring business that specializes in impeccably made 50s inspired dresses and skirts. Check her out on Etsy! (Hearts and Found is the name of her shop. Link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HeartsandFound) Not only are her designs adorable, but most of them also have pockets!!
After brunch we spent a few more hours wandering around District 1, checking out local shops and exploring the designer shopping malls (more on the malls to come in a subsequent post). Then the rain started again… We were slightly more prepared than the day before, as we had brought our umbrellas, but they were no match for the downpour and the wind, so we took shelter in a massage parlor – and got massages! Oliver and I both got hour-long Vietnamese style massages, which were not relaxing so much as therapeutic – that is, while we were both considerably uncomfortable during the massage, we felt relaxed and pleasant afterwards. At one point, the woman massaging me asked me to sit upright with my hands up on my neck/head, and then sat behind me, wrapped her arms through mine, and fell backwards, lifting me up airplane-style as she went. It felt great on my back, actually, but suffice to say that Vietnamese-style massage is not necessarily for the casual participant.
When we were hungry again post-massage it was time for A SNAIL PARTY!!! 🐌🐌🐌🐌🐌 Cameron took us to a small shop with tanks full of live, wiggling little snail friends out front and ordered several dishes. When they arrived I have to admit I was a bit intimidated… But apparently Oliver was not, and dove right in. I followed suit, and found that the snails were actually very similar in taste and feel to calamari, with just a bit more chew to them. We tried several different kinds – one small stripey variety had little ‘door’ flaps of shell that covered the opening, so you had to open them and fish out the snail meat with a safety pin, and another kinds was so slimey that you could just slurp them right out of the shell. We also ordered two snails that were each the size of my fist, which were scary at first, but ended up being my favorite! Most of the snails were cooked with a coconut broth and/or chilis and herbs, and regardless of the visual experience, the flavor a were all delicious.
We also tried fertilized fermented duck eggs, which are partially grown duck eggs fermented and cooked… I can’t exactly say I was a fan, but the egg really just tasted like egg. To eat them, you crack the top of the egg with a spoon and peel away a hole, out of which you can slurp away any excess liquid before diving in with a spoon. The yolk was just that – a cooked egg yolk – and I had no problem eating it, but when it came to the tiny blob of soon-to-be baby duck, I saw no reason to continue. Oliver slurped it all down in the name of adventure, though. Mmmmm.
After the baby ducks we needed a break, so we went back to the AirBnb for a while before meeting Marjorie and Cameron for dinner (we got McDonalds – it’s pretty much the same here as it is everywhere else) and a beer, after which we attempted to return to our apartment and found ourselves locked out. Begin SNAFU.
~End Day Two~ I’m gonna go enjoy Day 6 now, but hopefully I can catch up completely soon!