Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Arrived in Hoi An

It's only been six days into this trip and already Jeff and I have travelled via plane, bus, cyclo, boat, motobike and train. After leaving Hanoi last night from a two-day trip to Halong Bay, we caught an overnight train to central Vietnam. Being the classy people that we are, I'd booked us on 1st class sleeper cars that afforded us some degree of rest, considering it was a 12-hour trip.

The train was actually quite comfortable, but the best part was sharing the cabin with an old Vietnamese auntie and her nephew or grandson. Neither of them spoke English and since we don't yet speak any Vietnamese, there was a lot of gesturing and facial expressions to communicate. I took the bottom berth, as did auntie, which was good as we both woke at dawn. We sat and watched the ultra green countryside go by and life in the rice fields start.

Then the breakfast carts came by and auntie bought me and her what I thought were hard-boiled eggs and some curry leaves to go with our noodle soup. In fact, the eggs were actually half-hatched chickens, sometimes called balut, with partially-formed organs, head, and limbs. Lucky for me, the Discovery channel had a program on unusual Asian delicacies not too long ago, so I had at least heard of this food before. As I pride myself on trying everything, am not a vegetarian and quite enjoy eggs and chicken, I thought "what the hell" and popped it in my mouth. It was really tasty, with a taste and texture like, you guessed it, a hard-boiled egg yolk. I did spit out one tiny bone and crunch a bit on the beak, though. Thank goodness Jeff slept through breakfast; his stomach to try things like that is a bit more sensitive than mine.

And now we're in Hoi An, where we plan to spend the next several days. I hope to take a cooking class, visit an orphanage and get some clothes tailored while we're here. But first things first and it's time to get some dinner -- hold the balut.