It is autumn, and dawn comes late, and the darkness early, in Hoi An. Autumn by the calender, but not by feel, for it is easily 30C each day, the humidity reaching the 90s.
In the darkness of the pre-dawn, the air felt cool. Once on the water, a sea breeze played around us as we set out over the waves. Around us, were struggling with their nets in the darkness, somehow balancing in their tiny boats. Larger boats circled around them, buying the fresh catch from the fishermen and delivering it to the markets, or straight to the restaurants of Hoi An.
Dawn, when she came, was hidden by some clouds, which served only to make the sunrise more beautiful. Soft colours edged around the tonal greys of the night. For a moment the sun peeped through the clouds, a burning ball moving quickly through the sky before she was hidden again.
We headed to a fish market on a nearby island. When a boat pulled into the shore, the women ran into the water, racing each other to get the best choice, which they would then sell in the market. At times, the bargaining and competition became more than a little heated.
Such an incredible array of seafood on display, all ridiculously fresh (any leftovers are sold as food for the increasing number of fish farms). Small tuna, dragon fish, clams, prawns, baby kingfish, flathead, bream …. many I couldn’t name. A lady sold home-made rice noodles, still warm and steaming.
Back on the boat our captain cooked us breakfast. Fresh spring rolls filled with tiny prawns, clams with ginger and lemongrass on fresh rice noodles, sticky rice, small tuna cut in half and doused with lime, pepper and salt marinade, plus a bowl of stir-fried morning glory. Vietnamese coffee to finish the meal.
What a magical way to begin another day in Vietnam.
The Literary Traveller
Although set in Saigon, The Quiet American is Greene’s homage to both that city and to Vietnam herself. His admiration of the country and her people is evident on every page. It is a novel which comes alive as you travel through the country. Follow this link for my review.