Day 39: Farmers for a day in Hoi An
8am — Market time
Our lovely guide Jessica (not sure if that's her actual Vietnamese name?!) met us at our hotel and we jumped on our bicycles and followed her into the town. Parking up outside the market, we ask if we should lock our bikes but she said they'd be fine, so we shrugged shoulders and carried on (maybe we've lived in London for too long!).
Full of local traders the market is basic but so colourful. Jessica walks us round and shows us so many unusual vegetables, fruits and spices we've never seen before! She tells us lots of names and describes flavours, and gives us smells... I hope we can remember some of what we learnt. We'll be cooking later today so we select a few ingredients; fish, meats and fruits. She picks up a strange thin thing on the butchers stall, looks at me and giggles... it's a pigs tail!!!
10am — Pond life
On leaving the market, we return to our bikes and cycle 20mins through the rice fields. It's incredibly windy as we're in such an open space! We arrive at a pond with a farmer awaiting us and are greeted onto a round bamboo boat (little did I know we'd signed up for an exercise class). After a bit of time trying not to row round in circles we have a craft class and are made some fabulous accessories!
We also met the farmers water buffalo, on which Gav was told to stand upon! Bit strange, but we were promised it didn't hurt the big fella!
11am — Arrive at the organic vegetable village
Despite all our exercise we were still pretty chilly so our welcome tea was much appreciated. We could see the lemongrass and smell the ginger but there was some strange little blobs in there too. We had a sniff and taste and all was delicious, until Jessica informed us they were frogs eggs!!!!!!
Thankfully she was joking...
I then asked where the toilet was and was told there wasn't any but that a bush would be fine, as nobody would see. A little awkwardly, I explained I would wait... then the giggles arrived and she pointed to a door! Hats off to the Vietnamese, they have a good sense of humour and guillable me keeps on falling for it...
11:20am — Farming
The hard work continues: digging, land boarding, making beds, watering...
12:00 — A foot soak
Vietnamese farmers tend to work barefoot, especially rice farmers who are often wading through lots of water, so it's tradition to have a foot soak after work. Presented with a bowl of warm lemongrass and ginger, I began to wonder where our tea came from earlier....
12:20 — Back to work, making rice paper!
We've tried all sorts of rice paper delicacies over the past few weeks so our lesson in paper making was really insightful. Unfortunately I'm not sure our day-to-day lives could allow the several hour process of washing the rice, soaking the rice and grinding the rice... then making the papers! But I'm proud to say it's a skill we now have under our belts.
13:00 — Cooking lesson
With our new found skills in rice paper making we create some delicious spring rolls. Followed by some marinaded prawn and pork bites and some Vietnamese rice flour pancakes (banh xeo). Unfortunately I wasn't very good at the flipping!
But they tasted DELICIOUS. If I may say so myself...
Gav's day 39 takeaway
- I'm basically Vietnamese, I've got the skills to pay the bills now.
- I probably shouldn't have stood on a water buffalo, I'm not proud of that one. But the farmer insisted she likes it. I'm not so sure.