Sunday, August 8, 2010

The gastronomic and photographic approach to travel

After getting into Hoi An on the night bus I found that quite a lot of the hotels were full, particularly all of the budget options. The best I could find was $15 per night. I know that most of you are thinking that's a great price, but up to now I've been paying $7-$8 per night. 

Besides, I'm in SE Asia, things are just plain cheaper here.

Conical hats, colonial architecture, bicycles and scooters. That's Vietnam.

But for $15 per night my hotel room is large, clean, has a fan and a/c, had it's own private bathroom with hot water and cable television.

I went straight to my room, took a shower to get the "bus travel" off, turned on the TV and passed out.

I really like falling asleep to the TV.

But it occurred to me this afternoon that maybe the night bus isn't really saving me all that much considering I get in and want to take a three hour nap each time. It's kind of hard to sleep on them because often times the bus will go around a curve and it feels like you're going to get thrown out of the "bed."

Then again, it did average out to something like $8 per bus and considering that is travel plus one night's "accommodation" that ain't too shabby.

But I digress.

After my morning nap I decided to rent a bicycle and go traipse around town. I had no idea what I was looking for. I honestly didn't do too much looking into Hoi An before I got there. I knew it was an old town that's now a UNESCO World Heritage sight.

So since I didn't have a plan (aren't you proud of me?) I opted to explore through my stomach and the lens of my camera. Best decision I ever made.

I ended up finding lots of great Hoi An food including this really great noodles and pork dish that's very simple but very different from you typical fried noodles. I drank a million cups of Vietnamese coffee. And I took a ton of pictures. 

At the end of the night I walked about to see the lanterns that are all over town (which are only supposed to be there for the full moon but end up being there year round). I found people playing this funny street game. It's something like the Vietnamese version of a pinata game but your "blindfold" takes the form of an aboriginal mask.

Honestly this is the stuff that had been missing so far, though I'm still looking for the "real" Vietnam. I don't know what it is about travelers but I think we all find it difficult to find any authenticity at all when we travel to a new country.

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