• Tara B. Vasi

Day 14: Hoi An, Vietnam. Sunday, October 27th, 2019. Lantern making, Noodle Making, Rain, Uno

I sleep like an angel baby and when the roosters start popping off in the morning, I wake up and think, oh hello friends, thank you for the wake up call. Such a blessing these mornings, just to wake up without a hangover.

Before going to sleep the night before, I found into a little shabby gym in the hostel. There were a few free weighs kicking around so I did some light lifting and plyometrics, which I am sure contributed to the amazing night sleep.

I snuck out of the dorm room in the AM without making much noise, as to not wake up the others in the room. Not like my tip toeing mattered with the roosters still screaming at the top of their lungs. I mosey to the restaurant with my computer for some quiet time with my thoughts and my coffee. I research G-Adventure trips from Bangkok to Bali and look into different Yoga Trade options Around the world. So many possibilities!! I research TESL and I have multiple conversations with people on FB messenger who respond to an inquiry I posted to my FB page. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for the people that came to my aid, willing to offer recommendations and suggestions for different teaching programs. It’s so cool that so many people in my circle have taught English abroad!

There was a yoga class at a yoga studio Down the street at 8:45am, and as much as I wanted to go, I knew it would be more silly to not spend that time visiting the beautiful city of Hoi An, a place I would probably never come back to.

I join a few people for some sight seeing around Old Town. Kenny took a pretty sweet yoga photo of me in from of this stone temple.

I facetimed with my Mom as I walked the streets of Hoi An trying to share the moment with her virtually. She was annoyingly concerned with my previous blog post, the one where I panic about going back to New Jersey, and my life once the trip is over.

The group and I went to a lantern making class and learned how to make our own lanterns. I opted to make a lantern for my Mom because I knew it would melt her big mom heart. The women who showed us how to make the lantern were mother and daughter, so it seemed extra appropriate. The daughter would show us what to do. We would do it. We’d hand off our work to the mother and she would laugh and fix it. She loved making fun of Kenny’s work. I did pretty well and got nervous each time handing my work over to the mother for inspection, because I wanted to impress her. Lara and I both made purple lantern for our mother’s.

I didnt even prompt the guys to do tree pose. My knees hurt looking at it! I kept stressing not the knee not the knee!! haha Anyway, I’d say that’s another win for yoga. We can call it Lantern Yoga.

My weather app calls for rain on and off all day and it was not wrong. It starts to down pour, just as we dip into the Oodles of Noodles cooking class. They show us a video describing the program that we are supporting. The husband and wife are American and came up with the idea to teach young men and women in poorer communities how to cook, serve, and speak English. They chose Hoi An because it was a tourist destination, and they knew the tourists would dine at the restaurants thus funding the program. Who wouldn’t want to support a restaurant that was giving these children a bright future? Way to tug at the heart strings. Perhaps the idea stemmed from a place of love and generosity, building a program to help young children build a career in the restaurant business though as the video progressed it was more and more evident that the couple was making a shit ton of profit off the program. It seems a bit deceitful and exploitative to me, but maybe that’s just business and maybe I’m just a bit cynical. What can I say? I don’t like being taken advantage of, especially by people who claim they want to help you, but definitely have ulterior motives.

We learn about how to make rice noodles. They pass around plates of different noodles and blah blah blah and teach us how to count down from 5. I remember SunSun means READY!!! Then we are served hot noodle soup called Mi Quang. I am on my third day as a vegetarian, so I get tofu, vegetables, and two quail eggs. (Already in my belly and not shown in the photo)

After lunch, the group disperses and we all decide to meet back at the hostel for the bike tour at two. I walk around to shop a bit and get seriously caught in the down pouring rain. My feet are squishy. I had a poncho at one point but it fell through my non-pocket pocket of the new duffel bag I got in Krabi somewhere probably in Cambodia.

I dip into a dress shop and because I feel kind of bad waiting out the rain in the shop, end up purchasing this blue and white dress that is “ok” pretty. I haggled and she accepted my lower price and I realized that I was pretty bad at haggling, but getting better each transaction.

I wonder if they are going to cancel the bike tour because of the rain, but they give us ponchos and tell us to saddle up. I have a basket, but no bell. I am a little cold, wet, and sour, and considering skipping the tour because of the rain and the lack of bell, but don’t. For the first 20 minutes of the bike tour the rain is pouring down and because we are moving forward it feels like we are willingly riding into a wall tiny daggers that stab you in the cheeks.

Adorable Bryony modeling the yellow poncho.

My back pack is on under my poncho but I can feel water dripping down my back. My watch stopped working. We all followed single file through traffic. We are wearing bright colored ponchos, so look just like the lanterns handing from building to building in the town center. It was incredibly unsafe, and maybe that’s why I liked it. I embraced the down pour and the bike ride, though wet, was super fun. I didnt need a bell after all, I just beep beeped myself. I’m glad I didnt back down because of the weather.

The rain lets up and we arrive at our first stop, the rice farm. They offer us hot tea and delicious coconut biscuits.

We take turns trying to water the plants but we try to tell the guy that we are pretty sure they have had enough water for the day. We continue to our next stop where we meet the sweetest old man. He is 96 and says the key to life is to smile and drink two beers a day.

He is the guy in this famous photo and a legend around town.

We continue our travels, passing rice fields, water buffalo, and groups of children here and there that are so excited to wave and smile at us as we cruise by.

We get to our next stop, the bucket boats. First we are offered sugared coconut, rice pancakes and watermelon and sit around a big boat shaped table. I eat an excessive amount of coconut.

Bryony and I are paired together and go on the bucket boat with our guide. He takes us down the river to a place where we can “crab”. We have a stick with a piece of bait on the end, but when we see a crab, the guy just reaches for it with his hand and pulls it out of the water. He has me row while he rests and I ask if I can offer him a beverage or cool him off with a fanning.

The rain starts up again and we bike to the ferry. We load our bikes on the ferry and take the boat back to Old Town Hoi An. Rush hour is among us and we bike back to the hostel zig zagging through traffic trying not to collide with the slew of pedestrians, motorbikes, cars and tour buses.

Finally we are back and take turns having a hot shower. There are six girls in the room and one shower, so this takes quite a while. I flop down on my bed and let everyone else go ahead of me. Everyone goes out for dinner in smaller groups and Bryony and I decide to stay back and get a small bite at the restaurant in the hostel.

Even though the beautiful pictures on the wall suggest they have a full delicious menu, the menus is limited. We try to order morning glory greens sautéed with garlic but they are out, so we get a small pizza and French fries. The lady calls for a delivery pizza! It arrives with ham and we pick it off. It is cheesy and delicious, though I feel a little bad about eating such unhealthy food aaaand that of which is not even native to Vietnam!

Bryony tells me about a conversation she had with her Mom. There is a 21 year old British girl who has gone missing off the coast of Cambodia. She was staying at the same resort we were staying at in Koh Rong! The article said that she was traveling with a friend and they were with a group at a party on Police Beach. The last time anyone saw her was around 3am. Her belongings were found by the beach, but no one has heard anything from her.

How awful!! Her parents flew for the UK to Cambodia and the entire island is searching for her. Poor sweet angel. My guess is she went for a swim and got pulled out to sea. When we were on the island, I remember the current being quite strong.

Some of the boys show up with beers and cookies and we play Uno for an hour or so. Everyone plays differently and I swear UNO has changed since I was a kid. Bryony is in full blown teacher mode and every one yells at each other for not paying attention. Ali keeps trying to throw multiple cards, which is not allowed, and Owen keeps yelling bulllshit! even though that’s not even the game we are playing. None the less, we had a great time playing, and I stayed up way later then I have most nights. such a rebel. I haven’t laughed like that in a while. It felt good.

I went to bed smiling and thinking about Bali. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll just go for it.


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