Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday, November 16 Rest Day in Hoi An

Paddy will add the details of her day off tomorrow. I have just returned from the Spa where I had a Purifying Facial and a Coffee Scrub! Wow, this is the grand treatment.

To catch up on our exciting news from last night. I had arrived at the hotel, turned in my laundry, booked for the Red Bridge Cooking School and went to have a Vietnamese coffee (an aluminum top with the grounds through which you pour the hot water...I had to ask what to do with the top when I was ready to drink the coffee) and catch up on my journal. It is still not finished because through the downpour appeared two familiar faces hooded in raincapes. Sandy and Glenda Kirk had managed to connect with us.....what a wonderful surprise. They came to dinner with us and caught up with Dan and Robin, Sharon and Eleanor, Michael and Paddy and I. They had waited for three days in the rain at Hoi An to see us as they regreted that they didn't get to meet Group 1 (on the train coming south while the group was flying north). Glenda and Sandy are looking healthy and to be having fun with their trip. It was difficult to say goodbye.

Chau took a group out this morning for a tour. Paddy will give details. Some of us had to switch rooms as the power went out on the third floor.

I went to the Old Town to search for the location of the cooking school. On the way I found a silk jacket ready-made just for me! Later on it was indicated to me by a local, by looking at my map and the asterik on it, that the school was down there where the water was flooding the street. In fact, boats were coming up the street from the river....I haven't seen flooding like we saw yesterday (we waded and pushed bikes through two causeways with water to the knees but were unable to navigate the third one) since the Fraser River Flood of 1948! In frustration and to reward my helper I took a cyclocab back to the hotel.

Had a coffee with Robin, then she went to her fitting (Paddy will give details) and I had a bowl of Pho Bo.

I tried again and this time found the school (Doug and Gala had gone for the 8 am session, too early for me). The 2 pm class was full with 16 students (from England, Scotland, France, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Washington DC and Qatar) and three leaders. We went first down to the market to check spices, knives and other utensils, to identify foods that we had eaten or read about. We tried a locust fruit but the guide thought it was sour....we liked it. Because of the flooding we couldn't go by boat (docks underwater) to the Red Bridge Cooking School so we went through the countryside by van back to the river and the school.

The cooking session was fun but fast!  The chef, who had the jokes of a TV chef, would demonstrate, then we would cook on gas burners, then arrange our product with flair, then eat it. We made rice paper to use for the spring rolls we made; we made a Hoi An pancake which we wrapped in rice paper; we made a hot pot of eggplant, tomato and herbs. While the hot pot cooked we practised making a cucumber fan and a tomato rose. (Unfortunately my camera battery expired on me; I hadn't been able to charge my other one as the power was off during the morning). I hope Doug and Gala will be able to post some pics. We went into the eating area to continue our meal of green papaya salad, our hot pot, rice and steamed mackeral. Then it became clear why we were working at such a feverish pace....the flood was coming up on the grounds of the school and in fact had reached the steps! The quickly hailed vans took us back to our hotels.

Then came the finale to my day....the facial and coffee scrub. What a way to end a so-called "rest day".
written by Yvonne

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