Since the beach is not a viable option for me in my current state in this otherworldly sweat feast, I have not found another respite from the heat besides the confines of my own air-con room. Fear not, I made big moves today by walking the Old Town of Hoi An to get a feel for it when it is less crowded. Even without the lit up lanterns glowing in the night, the city still brought its charm. In a way I could appreciate the architecture even more now as well as its artistic old timber wood carved structures in its pagodas and family homes. This traditional trading port town has many Chinese and Japanese characters emblazoned throughout its winding paths not willing to forget the past and history represented. After enough exploring of the streets themselves, I needed to investigate the Hoi An market for some food as traditionally to this area as possible. Checking off another dish on the check list, I dug into a bowl of mi quang with my quickly evolving deft chopsticks. Mi quang is a thick noodle dish laced in gravy highlighted by thinly sliced pork, a couple of boiled quail eggs, bean sprouts, and crunchtastic crisp wontons while accented with a salat of lettuce, mint, and cilantro (I never realized these two herbs played such an integral role in Asian cooking). After scoring some dessert in the form of three mangos (not all eaten in one sitting) plucked from the market, the stars randomly aligned to run into Giulia the Italian girl I met on Koh Rong Samloem in Cambodia. Still confused by the initial sight of her walking in my direction through the crowded narrow market, I could not get over how oddly small the world is capable of being. We caught up on the gaps in our itineraries that led us to where we were today after all the time apart. Off to do our own separate things, we tried to make plans for later to link up to hit the Old Town. My plans turned into no plans at all since I had nothing else better to do with my time than to escape the entrapment of the heat for the solitude of my winter haven air-con living quarters. I think I can allow myself some rest here and there when it is well deserved otherwise you just go bonkers from the go-go hectic pace of travel and the requirement to do this, that 24/7; you forget what doing nothing feels like. It is when nothing turns into a theme of complacency that you have a real problem. I occupied my time with my meditative practice of writing as well as researching future travels that do not stand too far into the distance, specifically the Pandora’s box that is India. I went to the same restaurant that I had grown to love thanks to the tender care the woman running the show provided through her splendid cooking and welcoming hospitality. Crossing off the last two items on my Hoi An foodie to do list was an absolute pleasure. White rose dumplings softly steamed to perfection with shrimp meat held within the core of this formed culinary eye candy. All the while I sipped through some freshly brewed beer that made me realize no two fresh beers are the same. Yesterday’s could have been a finely crafted recipe while today limped through watered down confusion. Next up, a Vietnamese salad delivered on all notes once I got my paws onto never ending supply of fish sauce. The salad is unlike a Western salad that derives its bulk from the lettuce, spinach, or other greens; a Vietnamese salad has all its players lend a hand to achieve the overall goal of making my palate tingling with delight. It had lettuce leaves, mint, pineapple, cucumbers, paper thin melt in your mouth pork, tomato slices, roasted peanuts, carrots, mango, onion, vinegar. Along with my own touch of fish sauce and a sweet and spicy chili paste, the salad could do no wrong. The salad got amped just a bit if that were possible when heaped onto shrimp scented crisps and a bed of rice to soak up whatever drippings may have been leftover from this divine introduction into the world of Vietnamese salads. The mom and daughter didn’t seem capable of letting me go. I hung around for a little while longer to commiserate with another of the fallen (riding Vietnam by motorbike never promised to be easy). As another sign of how awesome the mother is, she attached some take away bananas as snack for later. They kept saying ‘see you later’ which I couldn’t quite make a promise to as delicious as a thought that may be. I was late to meet up with Giulia and thanks to the delay we were never able to connect in the night thanks to the rare concept of traveling without some sort of high tech phone usually of the iPhone variety that seems common practice at this point. How were people able travel ten or even twenty years ago is beyond me. Oh the joys and the conveniences of the technology age.
Riding Vietnam Day 169: Getting Restless