We head out to meet Heaven and Earth bicycle tours by the cooking school. Our two guides are lovely and take us through the town and out to the countryside. Given the fluidity of traffic rules in Vietnam it's a little heart-in-the-mouth dodging motos and buses at intersections. It's a relief to get out to the rice fields and back alleys. It's fantastic doing the tour as we definitely get to see aspects of life in Hoi An that we wouldn't otherwise. It amazes me how clean people keep everywhere in Vietnam (both rich and poor areas). There's no graffiti or chewing gum, rubbish or dog poo anywhere.
We visit a family that has been making the local Cao Lau noodles for five generations; the sixth generation are restless and say is too hard work. These noodles are only made in Hoi An and have to be flown to Saigon; they are not so good there as not as fresh. Everything here should be eaten the same day it is made, picked or killed. The noodles are made from rice only; the slight egg flavour is from the fire smoke. They are lengthy to make as they are made from scratch and the process starts at midnight to sell at market in the morning. There's turning the rice into paste, into dough, at least two steaming processes etc. It's fascinating to roll it in our hands as it feels just like pasta dough. In fact, the family has one woman cutting traditional style (with knife) and another woman feeding handrolled dough sheets through a hand cranked pasta machine.
The noodles are tasty. One of our group says 'yum' and our female guide giggles. Our male guide whispers in Brian's ear that in Vietnam that means 'horny'.
We visit a home where mung beans are grown. They are grown in large concrete tubs. The seeds (25%) are covered with sand (75%) and watered every day for three days to prepare them for market. Sand comes from the hills and is used once only as the beans draw out all the good energy. The sand is then piled in front of the house until it is taken away for building. In Vietnam, fresh mung beans are believed to be very 'good' for the man. They are deliciously fresh compared to when they reach our supermarkets.
We also visit the herb farm village. At the farm we stop at we get to help water the herbs (with the traditional two watering cans / wooden yoke) and meet the owner. He is 93 and still works on the farm every day!
We cycle pass beautiful vistas of river / paddy / mountains / cloud; geese farms (where their fenced field is a helluva lot bigger than we give our birds back home); and locals working in the fields.
We visit a local market to learn more about ingredients and choose to do some bartering for fresh fruit. I buy mangosteen and a small pale green fruit with white interior.
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