We took advantage of our Homestay’s out-of-the-crazy ancient city location and its free bikes to ride about 20 minutes to An Bang Beach. I forgot this is a beach town. We were quickly out of the city and riding past rice patties with the occasional water buffalo 🐃 lolling around. The beach is gorgeous — soft tan sand and crashing waves of muddy brown water. More trash in spots than we like but we kept walking along the water and found ourselves right in front of a place I’d read about in the excellent March 2019 NYTimes 36 Hours on Hoi An that has served us so well! The salt pub looks more like a tropical paradise with lounge chairs on the sand and thatched roofs. We got fantastic drinks (coffee sua for dirck, passion. Fruit/ pineapple juice for me and later a smoothie with several fruits including passion fruit.
We had a nice where-have -you-been chat with a well traveled Kent, Australia couple who were lounging in the sun next to us. They also mentioned there was torrential rain in a Hoi An for the 3 days before we arrived so we got lucky. It seems to rain once a day briefly and intensely. By the time we have gotten our raincoats out and on, it stops and we are even hotter. We got about waist deep in the crashing waves (the water is almost too warm) but I didn’t want to get my eat wet, which is on the mend thx to my antibiotics regimen.
This afternoon we peddled into Hoi An and found one of the fantastic street vendors our Hanoi food guide Mark recommended. Mark knows his stuff and it has been such a treat to know which of the many street food vendors are best. We sat on plastic stools at a very busy street food stand and had superb Banh beocombination of shrimp dumplings, meat and who knows what else. We have at least 4 other famous street foods to try. Crazy!
We were the only westerners and people, especially two young girls, were very kind — showing us how to eat with a wood utensil that was a cross between a knife and a chopstick and which sauce to dip which food in. That was lunch at about 3 pm (about $4).
We wandered to the less crowded and classier part of the ancient town, at the eastern end to visit Precious Heritage Museum, a remarkable place and effort by a French photographer who has made it his life’s work to photograph people from Vietnam’s many ethnic minorities and collect an authentic costume from each, which are on display. The photos are for sale, with proceeds going to the museum and some of the people photographed. Amazing.
We wandered into a leather shop next door and each left with a hand made $20 leather belt (from water buffalo hide). I was tempted to buy a purse or shoes. Next to the leather shop is MIa coffee, in a two story French colonial building that looked like something out of New Orleans. I later learned we were in the French Quarter. We had beer (not coffee) since they also have craft brews and fries with rosemary and salt. That was our late dinner.
We walked our bikes through the throngs of tourists at 7:30 pm in the ancient town on a Saturday night and then rode the rest of the way, feeling more confident than last night. Love this town. It’s been fun staying at Halo Homestay. Very well run and spanking clean and interesting to catch glimpses of family life and a real neighborhood, where we hear the occasional rooster.