The drive from DaNang to Hoi An was so beautiful, we were definitely out of the city now. This was more how I envisioned Vietnam to look.
Our first order of business was to find a certain sandwich shop that we had seen on one of Anthony Bourdain's TV shows, to try banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich.
It was basically, a little hole-in-the-wall place with tables in the rear, and a counter up front. We overheard someone say that they make 2,000 sandwiches a day!
From our table, we could watch them assemble all of the sandwiches and also pull the fresh bread right out of the oven. The smell was heavenly.
People waiting for their "to-go" orders, literally stood right behind the sandwich makers and watched.
The ingredients were all incredibly fresh, and grown locally, no doubt!
Banh mi is translated as "bread", and is usually referred to a single serving baguette in Vietnam. The French brought the baguette to Vietnam, but the Vietnamese version tends to be a bit lighter than the French counterpart.
These were probably the best sandwiches I've ever eaten. Matt ordered the "everything", which included a fried egg, Ella got barbeque pork and Eva and I got the chicken, bacon and cheese. The baguette was the perfect amount of crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, and all the juices soaked fabulously into the bread. Add to that, fresh veggies and some sauce and you have something pretty close to perfection! Not to mention the fact that they were about $1 (US) a piece!
After we had eaten our fill (and ordered a few for the road), it was time to explore.
Hoi An was an ancient port town, and an important port for the southeast Asian spice trade in the first century. The buildings have mostly been preserved, and the town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I absolutely adored all of the colorful hanging lanterns.
Wandering at dusk could not have been more picture perfect!
I was ready to pack my bags and move here.
The ladies in the boats were soliciting passersby for boat rides. The constant bombardment from locals selling things, during the entire trip, did get tiresome.
There were also lots of ladies selling fruit, clothes, you name it!
The girls were also touched a lot by the locals. They touched their faces and hair, I didn't really love this too much. We are used to pictures being taken, but this was a new level of closeness! They also loved to hold Eva's ponytail and just study her blonde hair.
Hoi An was over the top in charm and character!
I loved the yellow of the buildings, so much.
We stopped at this lovely little patio for some tea and ice cream, and to take in the view.
Such a spectacular evening,
That is one small tea cup!
The first cup of tea was good, the next was horrible! The further the tea steeped, the more bitter and almost soapy it tasted. I looked inside and it was full, to the top, with actual fresh green tea leaves. This was definitely not the Japanese variety of green tea that we are used to!
Everything became even more charming at night. Each building was lit up with lanterns of all sizes.
When it was dark, the river was lit with these small lanterns. You could buy one and make a wish, then float it on the river. It was really beautiful, but, unfortunately, just too dark for me to get any great pictures. But, a lovely end to a great day!
Every hotel that we stayed at during this trip had a pho station set up at the breakfast area, which is a classic Vietnamese soup. Such a lovely presentation, but I guess I just don't think of soup as breakfast food. Luckily, they also had Western options.
And a last goodbye to our hotel staff. They were all so nice! (This is an example of a traditional Vietnamese dress for women. A thin fabric or lace dress with long sleeves and a slit up each side to the waist. Then, wide legged satin pants are worn underneath. We saw every color under the rainbow during our stay, the style was quite elegant.)
We flew from here to Hanoi, the nations capital, for the remainder of the trip, with a side trip to the majestic HaLong Bay.