I called this post Hoi An Part 1. I should probably have called it Hoi an BCC (Before Camera Class) and the next post  Hoi ACC (After Camera Class). I took an excellent camera class in Hoi An and hopefully you will see a marked improvement in my photography skills in the next post.

Hoi An is a wonderful little city. It has the 3rd largest GDP in VN behind Hanoi and Saigon, and it is almost all based on tourism. The center of the tourist industry is what they call ancient town. Hoi An was spared any combat or destruction in the French or American wars. Thus, the buildings are all authentically old. In the part of town called ancient town, they have wisely prohibited "modern" vehicles, basically anything with a motor. It makes for nice pedestrian passages. The economy is based upon shopping.

If you do not want to walk around ancient town, hire a Pedacycle!

In ancient town they say there are 500 tailors. I think that is a low estimate. My wife got some work clothes made and I had one shirt made for my "Happy Buddha" body.

There are also a couple of dozen shoe stores where you can have any type of shoes made, in any color, as outrageous as you want. I mean if you want shoes made with the Starbucks logo, no problem. Of course if you want shoes with wings, here they are! You can be the envy of your bowling league after a trip to Hoi An!

Ancient town is split into two parts, the Chinese and and the Japanese area, connected by this Japanese bridge.

The Chinese area has a large assembly area which dates back about 600 years. Built by a series of Chinese traders, it is a beautiful area with fountains and gardens and worth a visit.

We splurged in Hoi An and stayed at the Victoria Hotel. It had a great beach, but most importantly, an excellent Spa. This is where Mary Ann spent the day while I was taking my photo class.

The hotel had beautiful grounds and wedding parties came there to pose for pictures. All over Hoi An, we saw brides posing for pictures.

We decided to spend a day in a cooking class, where we thought we might learn some of the secrets behind the incredible food in VN. It started with a visit to a community of 50 or so families that together run a set of organic gardens. This might be an endangered enterprise because the young people are not becoming farmers like the previous generations.

A farmer watering his onion crop.

A woman harvesting her lettuce.

It is a large garden area, probably 5 acres. It sells veggies to restaurants and at the markets.

Next we went to the local market to buy ingredients for what we would be cooking. Everything from peas to pig ears were available, all fresh, and ripe.

An important part of Vietnamese cooking is fish sauce. It is locally made. My next post will cover a fish sauce factory, which ALMOST made me rethink ever using it again..but...

The entrance to the red Bridge cooking school.

We made our own rice noodles. This is not as easy as it looks! Our instructor was trained in Hanoi at a school called KOTO (Know One Teach One) which was started by some Aussie expats to take disadvantaged youth off the streets and give them a career in the restaurants serving the booming tourist sector.

Soon enough we had enough noodles made.

Then we prepared the ingredients we had bought at the garden and at the market.

And soon it was soup! Delicious soup.

The soup went down well with a local beer.

That does it for Hoi An BCC. The next day I took a photography class, and I really think my skills have improved.

click here for Hoi An Part 2

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