We arrived into DaNang on the night train at around 8am. The scenery had been quite nice that morning as we were going through rural countryside areas and we passed rice paddies and water buffalo !
I didn’t sleep too badly, but was woken up a few times from the train stopping at stations along the way and the loud overhead speaker announcements that came with them. We transferred onto a mini bus which would take us through to Hoi An – about a 20minute drive away.
We passed the beach which runs alongside DaNang and could tell from driving through to Hoi An that it was a smaller town than the others we had visited. Our hotel was the Golf Hotel, and as our rooms were not ready yet we paid the 60,000 fee for buffet breakfast and ate before taking a walk down to the tailors and shops of Hoi An.
Sarou, our tour leader, took us to a shoe shop first, along the river, then to the New World tailor shop, where almost everyone decided to get something made. I was apprehensive and not sure about the fabrics they had on offer and the prices and also the lack of attention to designs we wanted .
After the tailors we went back to the hotel to check in and have a shower . We then took a walk to find lunch back into Hoi An and ended up near some markets and more clothes shops and finally a cafe for iced coffee and food. It had an English (tourist) menu but the food was really good and Vietnamese – they made me a vegetarian green papaya salad with fried tofu and onions on top, which is one of the best things I have had so far !
We kept walking through Hoi An after that but found it was super tourist driven and not much else. We stopped for a coffee on a little boat cafe on the river where we had the hot fresh coffee with sweet condensed milk which was brewed in a silver thing on top of the cup.
We then headed back to the hotel and napped till we had to meet the group at 630 for dinner. We were taken to “The Little menu” for dinner – another tourist cafe, which I wasn’t very impressed by. The cocktail I ordered tasted like juice no rum at all, and the eggplant,mushrooms and spring onion dish I had wasn’t cooked very well – the eggplant was not soft – under cooked it appeared – and the flavour wasn’t amazing.
Afterwards, we parted ways with the group early and headed towards the other side of the river, buying small candle lanterns to release, with a wish, onto the river along the way. We also found a street vendor selling battered and fried fruit – pineapple and banana, and sugared “doughnuts”. Amazing.
We found a restaurant/bar across the river and ordered $2aud Long Island ice teas, which consequently led us to being seduced into an awful backpacker bar that had 2-4-1 drinks = $2Aud jars (literally) of strong whiskey.
We found a spot on the balcony alone and only managed to drink half the jar before heading back to the hotel.
We had booked a cooking class tour ourselves for the next day, Tuesday 3 September, which had an early start of 8.15am.
We booked it through Thanh Thien Island Cooking Tours after reading the plethora of good reviews on Tripadvisor. It was $30USD/630,000Dong but included all transport,local market, a 30min boat ride along the river to the coconut plantations and then a small row boat ride through the very tranquil plantations themselves, and then the cooking class itself.
When the taxi arrived to pick us up, there were only 2 other participants – and Australian and New Zealander couple who were traveling through South East Asia for a few months.
We were very pleased to have such a small group size and even happier to have chosen an activity that got us away from the tourist orientated Hoi An streets (as opposed to all the cooking classes that ran in the restaurants in town)
Our guide took us to the local markets to buy ingredients for the meals we were going to cook (tofu for me! Beef and shrimp for the others).
After this we got on our little boat for a very relaxing and lovely ride along the river – going on boat rides has been one of my favourite things on this trip!
After about half an hour we arrived at a little wharf where we swapped to a row boat with a cute little Vietnamese lady rower, who took us through the little river canals within the plantations.
After this we took a short walk to the cooking class building, stopping along the way to be shown how they can grind rice (soaked overnight) in a stone machine of sorts, into thick delicious rice milk – which we would later use to make Banh Xeou.
The cooking class was excellent, and catered to me as a vegetarian. It was one of the best meals I think I had eaten so far! We were very happy with our experience and would recommend it to everyone who goes to Hoi An!