June 15, 2016
Our first and only full day in Hoi An began with FaceTiming with my family for a while. Nate’s almost 2 (in two days) and he has grown quite a bit since we saw him (in person) in Taipei! He’s talking so much now and I love it when his face lights up when I say, “Say hi to Uncle Tim”!
We don’t get breakfast with our room and I didn’t want to pay $5 USD per person for it. I told my family that and they laughed and said we should splurge a little. We realize it isn’t that expensive but we’ve been in Vietnam long enough to know that $5 USD for breakfast is too much – you could buy 5 banh mi for that price!
Tim did a bit of research on where to go for Hoi An’s famous dry noodle dish called, Cao lau. We decided to try a restaurant outside of the Old Town (less touristy) that was suggested by a travel/food blogger we found. The restaurant didn’t have a name but we knew the address so we punched it in Google Maps and were on our way. Cao lau is only served in Hoi An because the water used to make the noodles are supposedly only found from one well in town. Who knows if this is still true today.
We walked for about 15 minutes before getting to the restaurant. The sun was beating straight down on us and it felt like we were walking in a sauna the whole way there. The heat here isn’t a humid heat, it’s dry, which is better I suppose. When we arrived at the restaurant, it looked like they were closed but the lady saw us and we sat down. After we sat down, a few more locals came for lunch and it seemed like everyone ordered Cao lau. We could tell that the place added a lot more to their menu to accommodate all the backpackers in the area as they had a lot of western options.
Cao lau is a dry noodle dish that has slices of pork, fresh herbs, beansprouts, and pork crackling. The star of the dish are the noodles, which are a type of thicker al dente noodle, more similar to spaghetti than to pho. Apparently the rice for the noodles are stone ground and then mixed with ash and water (sounds kind of gross). Any way, the cao lau was really good. It was Better than I expected the dish to be. We both enjoyed the pork crackling on top. It added a tasty texture to the noodles.
After lunch we headed towards the Old Town to walk around. It was early afternoon and it was pretty dead while we walked around, probably because it was incredibly hot. We walked around a bit, drank all our water, and felt exhausted from the sun. We tried to find the least overpriced cafe with fans or air conditioning that we could take refuge in for a bit. The prices in general in Hoi An are more expensive than other cities in Vietnam since the Old Town is so touristy (thanks to being a UNESCO World Heritage site). We ended up at Phuong Cafe, and ordered a fruit smoothie and a beer. They also gave us glasses of iced tea to drink, which was nice and refreshing. We stayed at the Phuong Cafe for an hour and a bit, they had free wifi so we just stayed in to escape the heat. The majority of places in Hoi An’s Old Town do not have air conditioning and the cafes that do are very pricey.
We felt a bit recharged after our break and headed to Peace Tailors for our first fitting. It’s pretty impressive how quickly they can make the clothes – within less than 24 hours. My dress fit well, but I asked them to make some adjustments to the hem. Tim’s suit was nice but he had to make some alterations to his shoulders and made his pants a bit slimmer. We were told to come back around 7pm for another fitting.
Before heading back to the hotel, I wanted to buy Nate a pair of pants. I call them “SE Asian backpacker pants” because that’s what I see a lot of backpackers wearing in SE Asia. I think they’d look really cute on Nate. We went to a couple of stores that quoted us some pretty outrageous prices – 260,000 VND ($15 CAD!). We knew that was a pretty crazy price to quote so when we told her how much we would pay, she acted very insulted. Then we walked away then she said she would go down to 40,000 VND. We still walked away. We found a store that said prices were fixed so we decided to take a look. They had a pretty good assortment of those backpacker type clothes , including the pants for kids. The list price was only 30,000 VND = $1.75 CAD. We were happy we didn’t go back to the lady who even thought about quoting us 260,000 VND.
We walked back to the hotel to rest up and cool down before our next fitting and dinner. Our plan for dinner was to go to a restaurant called, Morning Glory. It was suggested to us by the hotel and I had read about it in Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor. Morning Glory’s owner, Ms. Vy, has a few other restaurants and cafes in Hoi An, a cooking school, and a new restaurant in Melbourne.
When we arrived at Morning Glory, the restaurant was packed and we had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. We were told to sit inside in the waiting area, which was towards the back of the restaurant. It was super hot and stuffy inside. They had fans all over the restaurant and a huge air conditioner, which didn’t do anything because it was set to 33°C! Luckily we got seated on the patio in the front of the restaurant, which was actually a lot cooler and more comfortable outside. We ordered four dishes – white rose dumplings (Hoi An specialty), com gia (chicken rice), bun cha (pork meatballs with vermicelli and fresh herbs), and morning glory (ong choy). For our four dishes and two iced coffees, our bill was $23 CAD. This was our fanciest meal in Vietnam yet. The food was very good and I would highly recommend the restaurant. We know if we had this same meal in Melbourne, the bill would’ve been closer to $100 AUD.
After dinner we walked back to Peace Tailors for our second fitting. My dress was good to go, but Tim needed a few more alterations for his. We’ll be back again tomorrow morning for hopefully the last fitting.
We walked back to the hotel, washed up for the second time today, and continued to watch the second part of the O.J. Simpson documentary. I’m finding it pretty interesting since a lot of what made O.J. Simpson who he was happened before we were even born. We were only old enough to know about his murder trial, and not so much the societal context.
We’re leaving Hoi An tomorrow and heading back to Da Nang for the night since we have an early flight to Hanoi from the Da Nang Airport. Hoi An is a nice town city to visit but after a few days here, I’m ready to explore another city!
Steps today: 22,000