Well, this trip certainly crept up on me.
Honestly, it was like one minute I was in the wonderful, albeit slightly crazy, blur of my day to day life and the next I was taking off on a plane at 2am in the morning on the way to Hong Kong. One long layover (during which time I did a lot of colouring in) and one more flight later, here I am.
It didn’t take me long to fall for the charm of the beautiful little city of Hoi An. There is something about the bustle of motor bikes and people on the streets going about their lives and selling just about everything you can think of. And then there’s the food.
Oh the food.
Seriously, the food.
The Vietnamese love to eat. And they are always eating. How could you not with such an incredible cuisine made with passion from the freshest, most beautiful produce you could think of surrounding you constantly?
My uncle, Neville, moved to Hoi An permanently 5 years ago from Tasmania after working for years in the corporate world. After falling madly and deeply in love with the culture, the people and the food of Hoi An, he now runs an incredible food tour called The Last Great Taste of Hoi An. The tour has become extremely popular with local tourists and was even featured on “An Do’s Vietnam”.
To say that my uncle is an extraordinary person is somewhat of an understatement. His zest for living, attention to those subtitles of life and people and his openness to different ideas and the world at large always leave me completely captivated and fascinated each time he speaks. Likewise, my aunt’s deep care for those around her and sense of calm make her equally as remarkable. Having spent so little time with them growing up, getting to know them more as an adult has been just wonderful.
When my uncle is around things just tend to happen. Especially in his own territory, I find that I don’t need to think about the little details. Rather I get to embrace and appreciate what I am doing and who I am with.
For someone who is passionate about food, eating with a person passionate about food and a culture passionate about food is unbelievably special.
Today, I was privileged to go on his food tour. Featuring 40 different foods, it is possibly one of the best food experiences that I have ever had. From Pho to strange healthy black sesame soup (which legitimately looks like crude oil), each delicious dish that was presented was so purposely chosen to showcase everything amazing this city has to offer.
I cannot begin to describe how amazing it is. Not only do you eat the most phenomenal food, you learn so much about Hoi An, Vietnam, the culture and the food itself. You walk through markets, visit local restaurants, eat at street vendors and end with a final tasting run by my Uncle himself. The Vietnamese eat for health, they eat for enjoyment, they eat to celebrate life.
The first part of the tour is run by a wonderful Vietnamese lady called Sen who has such a special in depth knowledge of Vietnamese food and life. She also has the most hilarious tete-a-tete with Neville at various points throughout. Dinner and a show.
When I was asked what my favourite thing I ate was, I honestly couldn’t say. I feel as though I just had the best of everything – the best spring roll that I have had in my life, the best Pho, the best fruit drink, the best noodles, the best baguette (yes, better than those in Paris)…
You finish the tour with a wealth of knowledge and stomach completely full of food. I also finished insanely proud to call Uncle Neville and Aunty Colleen, who works tirelessly alongside him making the tour flow smoothly in the background whilst looking insanely glamorous, my family.
After the tour I went for a walk through the streets looking around and starting to get some exercise whilst orienting myself with the town. After eating so much food, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to eat another thing for quite some time.
So naturally, we went out for a big seafood feast tonight for dinner. As they say, when in Vietnam…