Hoi An – let the holiday begin

Today felt like a real holiday! I drank till late last night (to my surprise today,  I had killed nearly a whole bottle of Bacardi last night, only a sip was left, shame on me), slept till late and had a relaxed but frugal breakfast because by the time I showed up nearly everything on the buffet was gone and they did not replenish it.

Here are the views from the restaurant terrace of my hotel this morning:

By the time I went to pick up my motorbike it was already 11 am – and the heat had set in. My first trip led me to the closest beach, finally

:

Alas, it was too bleeding hot for me to go swimming. All I could bear was sit in the shade of a beach restaurant and drink some mango juice.

Then I drove to old Hoi An – a Unesco World Heritage place.

My system could take only 20 minutes walking around, too scorching hot. Then, when I was ready to flee to my air-conditioned hotel room, out of nowhere I found this haven of peace, in the middle of the old town which was brimming with tourists:

I call this the Vietnamese version of a Bavarian beer garden :) Ample shade under the trees – and, to increase my happiness, not one single foreigner on the premises. Maybe because there was not even a business sign outside the entrance? Very good! And the smiling young waitress brought me not only a cold Larue beer but also a big glass filled with ice cubes. Chilling time!

After taking a shower back at the hotel I went for a 60 minute massage at 5pm. Not as good as the ones I have the privilege to enjoy at Pirin Lodge but still very relaxing and joyful.

After that I rode in excellent condition (and darkness) back to the old town to check out a seafood restaurant I had read about in my fabulous German Vietnam guide book. It’s very thoroughly researched, an up-to-date June 2012 edition, and written by a guy on my wave length. What I like in particular is that their recommendations are completely different from the omnipresent Lonely Planet book and  they point you in the direction of local restaurants for local people.

Like the place tonight “Canh Buom Trang”. Difficult to find in a small side street. And busy as hell with local people. A menu in English (!) but not one foreigner. With all kinds of seafood. Simple and unpretentious. Just my place.

Those Vietnamese throw all rubbish simply under the table while they eat. Takes some getting used to.

I started with some steamed clams with chilli and lemon grass (4 Leva):

…followed by fried squid with fish sauce (what a pleasure at 5.50 Leva!)

What you see in the little bowl to the left is the local seafood condiment: a mixture of salt and black pepper with lime squeezed over it.

…and then a few prawns with salt and chilli (difficult to peel and eat in style with chop sticks, I can tell you!) – 5.50 Leva also:

I have to admit that the initial plan, after having studied the menu, was to continue with steamed river crabs with spring onions and a ginger/beer sauce, then some sea crab with butter and garlic (to compare the taste between sweet and salt water crab), finishing with fish braised in a clay pot (local style)…but today I was a well behaved boy and did not pig out. So, I called it quits after the shrimps – to leave something to try for the next few days as this restaurant certainly will see me again :) Their prices for a whole fish vary between 11.50 Leva and 14.60 Leva per kg. Unfortunately, I have difficulties ordering them as I have no clue what kind they are (most of them look different from our European species). But I will find out if they are tasty.

This restaurant also has a luxurious service that I am only used to from the best restaurants in Europe, where they have a “voiturier” who parks your car upon arrival and delivers it again when you leave. With the difference that here they provided this service for motorbikes :) Maybe it’s a “motorier” then? In any case, when I paid my bill and left the premises the friendly guy had my Yamaha ready and waiting for me at the entrance. Even the casket had been put on the saddle. Isn’t that something! I was so pleased that I gave the man a hefty tip, something he surely encounters rarely with only those local clients.

I strode home to my hotel (about 5km) in pride and confidence – and have opened my second bottle of Bacardi while writing this.

So, today was a real holiday. I basically got it all right – but my timing was miserable. That’s why I will go to bed soon now (it’s 11.20 pm again  anyway), to have breakfast very early followed by an early morning swim at the beach and a revisit to Hoi An before the heat sets in. Or so is the plan…

 

 

 

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