Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ooh La La!

Well, we've had another incredible day.  We met Phoung at 8:30 - he was in our lobby with 3 creaky but very nice cruiser bikes waiting.  With a healthy layer of sunscreen, hats and sunglasses we set off this morning into the countryside.  We passed by fish ponds, rice patties, herb and vegetable gardens, small villages, through the old Hoi An market, and along the river for a lovely 2 hour ride.  We made a few stops just to take in the scene - watching water buffalo graze on old rice "hay", fishing boats along the river, and the hard working villagers tending to their crops or collecting river weed to use as fertilizer. 

We made a quick stop at a little pottery village and, after a great deal of pressure from a very charming 4 generations of the pottery family, we purchased some items (including a whistle shaped as a kitten that the little girl was proud to have made) and off we went.  As we passed through villages, people stopped to smile and wave to us and children called out hello hello hello from windows and front porches. 

A word about Phoung.  He is a very kind and gentle 55 year old man who learned English from American G.I.'s during the war.  He frequently visited the homes of the G.I.'s to watch Bonanza, Batman, etc. and was treated to M&M's.  He is a retired school teacher.  He pays close attention to me and doesn't seem to notice Jim at all.  Jim has been doing some grumbling about that. 

The last stop on our bike trip was at the home of a family who has grown herbs, vegetables, and flowers for 300 years in this area.  Whenever you visit a shop, home, spa, etc. here you are always offered a beverage - tea or tamarind juice or some other mystery item.  Jim and I wouldn't dream of refusing, but the welcome beverage we were offered today left quite a lot to be desired.  We did our best to just gulp it down and get it over with.  The old man in the family talked to us (with Phoung translating) about their daily life and work then gave us rice hats and gardening smocks for a tour of the gardens.  Phoung didn't know the English words for many of the plants, but we were able to piece together several different kinds of basil, mint, lemon balm, lettuce, etc.  It was really lovely.  Marching out into the garden after a little while was Chef Tu.  Chef Tu brought us to another "house" to teach us to make several dishes out on the back patio.  We made spring rolls - fresh and fried and BBQ fish in banana leaf.  We even created a lovely centerpiece for our table.  We enjoyed the fruits of our "labors" with a couple of cold Tiger beers and were talked into buying a few kitchen items from Chef Tu. 

After bidding farewell to our hosts, we set off on the bikes again for a 15 minute ride back into Old Hoi An town where we dropped the bikes off at a shop.  The shop keeper yelled a "Good Bye" as we walked away toward the river.  We have gotten pretty familiar with the town by now.  When we got to the river, Phoung negotiated with a few boat drivers for a ride back to our hotel.  The boats are wooden with elaborate paint and eyeballs painted on the front - to scare away any large fish that might swim up and tip the boat over.  The eyes must have worked because we arrived safely back our hotel about 40 minutes later.  Sunburned, sweaty, and happy we cleaned up and had a little rest. 

We're catching the shuttle back to Old Hoi An town in about 45 minutes.  We'll go back to the tailor for the first fitting of our new shirts.  Then we plan to have an easy dinner in town - perhaps at the Marble Wine Bar where we've gone for a quick drink the past few nights.  Last night the woman running the wine bar told us that we were going to eat there tonight, so who are we to argue.

The next two days are on our own.  We have some spa treatments booked for tomorrow morning, but who knows what kind of trouble we're going to get into.  The beach is 40 kilometers long - we may spend all day on it - walking along the powdery sand listening to the waves crash.

1 comment:

  1. What am amazing day! I think you have missed your calling as a writer....your stories are great!!!