8/9 Having become acclimatised after four days in Vietnam we now wake at 7am. Back to the hotel breakfast, less tantalising the second time we rehydrated and took on board vital nutrients essential for another days adventures.
Keen to explore the city’s history we geared up against the elements in our trusty blue plastic pullovers and stylish accessory footwear and headed for the central market that we had hurriedly passed through the day before en route to the tailor’s appointment. Cramped into the space the size of a football field stood an array of merchants squatting either side of the narrow walkways, wares resplendent in circular cane platters. We passed noodle merchants, seafood merchants, butchering merchants, and fresh green vege merchants and backed up by trinket stall holders. The food merchants ignored us realising the futility of selling us fresh produce while the ‘trinket’ stall holders sang their local chant of ‘’You come my shop, plllllease”.
Thwarted by the deluge of rain but grateful for our waterproof shoes we mingled amongst the organised madness beneath the tarpaulin village architecturally engineered to provide fresh rain water for washing and cooking on site. Locals and tourists mixed alike with locals gathering their daily needs of fresh food with the tourists happy to gaze on in wonder.
Regardless of our already stretched stomachs we decided to roam dangerously close to risking a perforation of the wall and settled near a food stall to try the pancake like snacks the woman was making. We ordered one and I tried it to test for poisoning. Unscathed we shared it and promptly ordered another. The crispy exterior was filled with lettuce, herbs and shrimp then folded in half tortilla like and wrapped in a conveniently edible rice paper and dipped in some undistinguishable sauce. Mmmmm was the result. Curiosity assuaged we ventured out the other side of the market and made for the historical sites dotted about the city previously researched in the room.
*Quick pit stop to gather our thoughts and down a cheeky Mojito (because we could).
Voucher purchased we pressed on through the continuing downpour. Small running streams had now formed but undeterred we oohed and aahed over the Japanese bridge built four centuries before, toured through the oldest house in Hoi An walked through by the latest of the eight generations that had lived there, lurked about an old Cantonese temple (trying, unsuccessfully to mount the spiritual horse for a photo opportunity) and read studiously through an architectural presentation of local construction. Sodden and hungry again, we decided to seek refuge in a nearby cafe. Having become disoriented we ended up back at the same restaurant as last night (The Mermaid) and partook of a satisfying lunch of Cau Lao noodles and groper fillet sliced with bone in and covered in herbs and spices.
Now exhausted from all our experiences and wet through we hurried back to the hotel to dry out and relax ready for our day spa treatment booked for mid afternoon. My overzealous relaxing on the outdoor beds was brought to an abrupt halt as K motioned us in the direction of the day spa.
Dazedly I readied myself hoping I could soon return to that state of bliss. We filled out the required medical information forms, drank the potentially lethal liquid offered and followed our therapist into the changing room where we were told in Vietnamese to ‘’nude up’ and don the plastic undies.
Obediently, dressed in day spa gowns sporting cane sandals we were gently frog marched into our separate treatment rooms. K’s eyes rolled completely around in her head as she was led by the youthful non homosexual boy to her room. Once inside the room I lay face down gazing through the hole in the bed to a bowl of perfectly arranged rocks and waited for the magic to begin. Previous to this my feet were cleaned and energised in a bowl of tepid water alive with large amounts of lemon grass and mint. Ninety minutes of medium/severe manipulation left me pummelled into shape. The over earnest kneading of the scalp and face technique was new to me and not one I would like repeated. The ensuing salt scrub felt like an itch I needed scratching but quite abrasive and aggressive at the same time. I was hoping she would leave me one or two layers of dermis to go home with. Two hours later I was told to shower in the room whereupon she departed and left me unsure whether this was the end. Cleaned and scrubbed literally, I wandered back into reception where I was told to get back to my room so my therapist could then lead me back to reception.
Reunited again, K and I headed back into town briefly to collect my tailor made shoes then back to the happy hour at the resort to relax like Colonials over ginger cocktails in high back rattan chairs wiling away the evening gnawing on bar snacks and waiting for our Vietnamese orders to eat at leisure. Another early night (well we are getting on) ready for a 10am pick up to fly to Hanoi tomorrow.