Vietnam: Full Moon Festival and Cooking Class

Wow, I love Hoi An!
Last night was spectacular. I remember reading about the full moon festival here and being dissapointed that I’d miss it by a few days; my itinerary was different before I showed up. I didn’t think I’d have time to do Ha Long Bay but I did, which pushed Hoi An back a few days to perfectly allign with the full moon!

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So much smiling!

I was walking home from dinner when I heard music and the commotion of people by the river, which explains why the main road with restaurants and shops was quieter than normal.

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Girl selling candles for the festival

Then I saw the lights, and boy you couldn’t have slapped the smile off my face! In addition to all the lanterns lit up and dangling from the trees, the river was aglow with thousands of little paper cups of candle light. Locals were selling them street side and I bought myself two, and walked down through the mud to set them adrift.

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Yesterday I signed up for a cooking class at my hotel. I wanted to do the afternoon one, but other people had signed up for the early morning one so they asked me to do that instead. However, there was a light yet steady drizzle of rain, and all the other people wussed out. Awesome– I got a private cooking class with Giang, and it was INCREDIBLE.

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First we took bikes to the Hoi An community garden, a collective that supplies veggies and herbs to the city as well as exports them to the rest of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It was stunning, lush, and 100% natural. Crop rotation, seaweed fertilizer, and periods of leaving plots empty ensures that the soil has never eroded or lost its nutrients… in over a hundred years.

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Hoi An garden

Then we drove to the market, where Giang showed me every ingredient we would be using to cook lunch (she also helped me buy a bottle of conditioner– thank goodness, my hair has been turning into a dreadlock that breaks comb teeth).

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In the market

Once back at the hotel Giang translated for the chef who taught me to make green papaya salad, fresh summer rolls, and a tumeric-laden rice pancake filed with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. Easily the best meal I’ve had in Vietnam, and I made it “myself” (with help!) I can’t wait to hunt down the ingredients and try it at home. It was so fresh, AND beautiful. As Giang told me, you need lots of colors on your plate because in Vietnam “you eat with your eyes, and then with your mouth”.

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Lunch!!!

I had my final dress fitting today, and also got another (cheaper, more simple) dress made that I’m about to go pick up now.

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Putting on the finishing touches šŸ™‚

Tomorrow I am flying first class for the first time, as there’s only one flight per day from Danang to Nha Trang, and it was the only ticket left. And I’ll get to see my dad there! So excited. He got stranded a bit at the Beijing airport, but I told him even THAT would be a cool experience and from the excitement in his voice, it’s been an airport trip he’ll never forget.
Well that’s all for now folks!

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