Sunday March 10, 2019

Being a tourist is hard work. Exhausting, even. And far from envying us (like some people do), real friends feel SORRY for us – right? And they agree that, every now and then, we deserve a break – right?

Well, you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve finally got one! After being on the road nearly a week (phew!), we’ve spent the last three days enjoying one of the loveliest, prettiest, most tranquil places in all Vietnam – the charming old riverside town of Hoi An. And, for a bonus-reward, we’ve been staying in the gorgeous Palm Garden Resort – with trees and flowers to write home about, a pool to die for, and a white-sandy beach with palm-trees, rolling surf and sunshine!

The day before yesterday, we made our way to Hanoi airport, flew south to Danang (one-time fishing village, now Vietnam’s 3rd-largest city), and got taxied to Hoi An – once a major Asian trading port, now a bustling tourist hotspot and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After lunch at a local restaurant, we wandered through the ancient town centre – greeting laidback locals in their colourful stalls, dodging flying motor-scooters, eyeballing an ancient Hokkien temple and a 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, and learning how farmers raise wriggly silkworms for the textile industry.

Before the day was out, several Mad Midlifers had chosen dresses/jackets/shirts/whatever to be tailor-made overnight by Hoi An’s famous garment industry. Overnight? Yep, that’s what they do here!

Yesterday morning we got to sleep in, walk the beach, splash in the pool, or do some more shop-shop-shopping in the Old Town. Then, after lunch, we were off with staff from the Red Bridge Cooking School for a quick tour of Hoi An’s Farmers’ Market … where we were introduced to vegetables, fruits, concoctions and aromas (some familiar, others strange and foreign) that were gonna form part of our dinner tonight.

Next, we boarded a water-taxi for a leisurely 25-minute glide along the Tu Bon River – arriving at the legendary outdoor school on the jungle-smothered riverbank, where a professional (hilarious) Vietnamese chef showed us how to prepare specialty Hoi An dishes (like fresh rice-paper … shrimp spring rolls … Vietnamese pancakes … seafood salad … plus a variety of sauces). Then we tried our hand (with much hooting and laughter, but without  much success) at food decoration on poor, unsuspecting cucumbers and tomatoes – and sat down as darkness fell to eat our own creations.

Today, lucky us, we’ve had time to sleep in … relax over a posh breakfast … wander the lush tropical gardens … go sightseeing/pottering/meandering/shopping/whatever … and cool-off in the pool.

Has lovely Hoi An been a highlight? You’d better believe it! And one we won’t forget for a long, long time …

COMING UP: We grab a southbound flight to crowded, historic, dynamic Ho Chi Minh City (still called Saigon by many locals) in what we used to call South Vietnam. So don’t change channels …

PEOPLE-NEWS: Two more Quacky Yellow Ducks have found new owners …

  • SOMEONE NAMELESS wins our ‘Overzealous Lifeguard Award’ – for causing a splash in the pool the other night and getting herself ‘rescued’ by the super-eager lifeguard on duty.
  • KEVIN got himself embarrassed and took home our ‘Lost in Translation Award’ – for his frequent use of the word “yummy” at the Cooking School yesterday. Turns out “yummy” in Vietnamese means “horny”.

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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This entry was posted in 2019 Mekong by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Ha ha ha … Coons – am still laughing at the meaning of ‘yummy’. Hoot 🙂
    Looking forward to a meal with you guys cooking up a storm when you get back .. now that you’re both trained chefs YAY xx Love n hugz The Kerkys

  2. Hi Lorna,
    Have loved the blogs and reading and seeing what you are up to!! Quite exciting! All well at Tauranga still fab weather. Love from your peripetatic sisters.

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