The highs of Hoi An

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It’s our last day in Hoi An. What a trip. I feel we have just got into the groove. I know my way around the streets on the scooter. We have found our posie at the beach. We know the staff. I’m sad to go.

It has been such an adventure with my boy. His big smile and bubbly personality has meant we’ve met many people. In the streets. By the pool. At the beach. In the restaurants. It has opened many doors.

We did a cooking and farming day. I spend my days working on food magazines. I love a recipe. I couldn’t not do a cooking class.

I’d highly recommend the day to anyone, foodie or not. It’s a great way to see Hoi An. It started with a trip through the main market. We were shown all the fresh herbs, live crabs, displays of pork. We got all the ingredients we needed.

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Then we went for a boat ride down the river. Such a refreshing way to regroup after the heat and hustle of the market. The shacks by the river show a different side to life in Vietnam. The fishing world. The farmers.

We got to a small port where we moved to a small fishing boat. They’re cute. Round and woven. My boy got to paddle. We ended up stuck in the coconut palms. A dense waterway of tranquility. We made it to the cooking location. An open hut by the water. What a place to learn.

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What a fun way to learn. Everything is prepared for you. Neatly laid out. A chef explains each dish and ingredient and then we get to try it ourselves. I was nervous as to how my boy would go. Turns out he’s quite the little masterchef. He got the whole group together in no time. Broke down the barriers.

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The first thing we made were fresh rice paper rolls with Peanut hoisin sauce. A nice way to start. It was good to learn how to wet the paper without making it too sticky. Something I always do at home.

The second dish was a bit more tricky. Sizzling Vietnamese crepes with nuoc cham dipping sauce. I always wondered how the pancakes got so crispy. Rice flour and a long frying time. It melted in my mouth. My boy loved it. Finally I have found a way to get him to eat something different.

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The next dish was my favourite. Banana blossom salad. Oh. My. God. Where has banana flower been all my life? So delish. It can be substituted with mango or green papaya. I think I’ll need to research where to get it in Sydney though. The crispy wafers are the icing on the cake. It was my boy’s least favourite dish. It is salad, after all.

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The final dish was Vietnamese BBQ noodle dish. We marinated the pork for one and half hours. I had chicken instead. It was a taste sensation. It’s all about the sauce. And the herbs.

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After lunch we did a spot of fishing. With bamboo fishing rods. I caught the first fish. Then another five. My boy caught a few, too. It was thrilling. My man is the fisherman in our house. He’d be proud. And a little surprised.

Yesterday we did a motorbike tour. My boy sat at the front. Our driver in the middle, me at the back. It’s so zen on a motorbike. You smell everything. Feel the wind. Feel at one with the surroundings. It’s addictive.

We went to Marble Mountain. Wow. Yes, it’s pretty much made of marble. Lots of caves filled with beautiful statues of the buddha made from marble or stone. There were temples. We got to climb through a cave. It was slippery.

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My boy wanted to know more about the buddha. I was raised a buddhist, practised it for 15 years. It was nice to be able to pass some of the knowledge. Part of what has made me who I am.

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‘I am a buddha, too!’ he declared at the end.

We got back on the bike. Rode past China Beach. Beautiful blue water, stretched for miles. Rode over the dragon bridge in Danang. Headed to the Highland Pass. I’d never been in to the mountains before. They are spectacular. The views mindblowing.

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Then Long, our driver, took us off the main drag. We rode along a small road near an inlet. There were oyster farms. Water buffalo in rice paddies. It was beautiful. The real Vietnam. We turned into a small laneway. Just a dirt track. We walked by a river, scrambled over rocks. Ended up at the most divine water hole. You could see the bottom.

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A cool oasis. Only locals. And us. My boy jumped in, played with the kids. I lay on a mat watching. Just chilling. They made us grilled chicken and fish. All fresh. It was divine. We hung there for a few hours. Why leave?

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Then we began our journey back. Over the mountains. Our legs were wobbly when we got back. We were high from the ride.

Hoi An has been one big adventure.

One that will live in the heart of my boy for a long time. It has been a journey for us both. Bonding in ways we probably don’t even know.

I’ve given him a nibble at the travelling life. A taste that will hopefully grow.

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