A trip to Vietnam is not complete without visiting Hoi An, a Unesco World Heritage Site. While not being a large town (120,000 people) there are plenty of things to see in Hoi An and you can easily spend 3 days
seeing the major sights, most of all enjoying the local cuisine that includes some fantastic regional specialties.
The history of Hoi An is predominately based around trading and Hoi An was the most important trading port in the South China Sea in the 17th and 18th centuries, trading in ceramics and spices, which were exported all over Asia.
The legacy of this history is some very old and historic buildings and a rich cuisine with some external influences, such as the French and Chinese.
The main culinary gift the French exported to Vietnam was the baguette and is the base of the Banh Mi.
The Vietnamese baguette is lighter than the French variety, it’s made with rice flour as well as wheat flour. Added to the baguette is pork, sometimes egg and pate’ which is almost always made at home. Then add coriander (cilantro),
Cucumber,onion, mint and mayonnaise and often pickled carrot and daikon radish. Some chilli or sweet chilli sauce is also added depending on your tolerance level.
It’s a great and cheap meal to have for lunch and backpackers are seen at all the local Banh Mi shops.
The most visited Banh Mi shop in Hoi An is Banh Mi Phuong which was made famous on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
Another great snack and regional specialty is the Hoi An Crispy Pancake. In Vietnamese called Banh Xeo – sizzling cake.
It’s similar enough to crepes to think there maybe a French influence in this dish as well.
The pancake is made from rice flour, turmeric and coconut milk/cream and then bean sprouts,shrimp and pork are added to the batter.
Once the batter is cooked rice paper is used as a base next layer the pancake and then put cucumber, green banana coriander (cilantro), mint on top of the pancake and roll it like it’s a cold roll and eat. Just fantastic!
You can buy the pancakes in the local market and you eat them with your hands, true street food.
This dish is taught at most of the local cooking schools of which there are many.
This noodle dish is something you will only find in Hoi An and the legend that surrounds it, is that the taste and texture can only be achieved using water from the Ba Le water wheel (although it is quite likely an urban myth).
It’s also said the ash of a burnt local tree gives the dish its taste and texture.
Nobody can be sure of the origins of the dish but the fact that it is unique to Hoi An and is reminiscent of a Japanese or Chinese noodle dish, you would think that it is a local attempt to replicate a Chinese or Japanese
dish a few centuries ago to sell to the traders.
Different restaurants cook the dish in slightly different ways the dish is normally pork, noodle and vegetable with a broth and sauce.
There are many Cao Lau noodle makers in Hoi An outside of the old town where you can enjoy a bowl of Cao Lau Noodles
You can see the noodles being made all over town being laid to dry on the pathways, out the front of the homes of the noodle makers.
This dish is out of left field and something I would more likely expect to see in Mexico. In Vietnamese this dish is called Hoanh Thanh.
Crispy Wontons are fried wontons filled with pork. It’s a bit like a fried tortilla but the thing that’s most Mexican like is the salsa that’s added at the end.
It’s a tomato based salsa with vegetables and coriander (cilantro), it’s a fresh taste that’s ideal for the hot climate in the area.
If you are in Vietnam you will find Pho (pronounced) fur everywhere. The Hoi An variety is much like the Saigon style which is a lighter broth with star anis, very floral with plenty of herbs.
The more north you travel the more that Pho tends to change to a more winter like soup by European tastes.
Unlike in Europe the soup is eaten for breakfast in Vietnam and you will find Pho in nearly all the places you go in Vietnam.
It’s a taste sensation when done well and you’ll find everyone will have a different master stock so no two restaurants will have Pho’s that are exactly the same.
Hoi An is a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of Vietnam and should be on the itinerary of every food lover visiting Vietnam
This weeks Phuket Hotel Deal of the week is Deevana Patong Resort and Spa.
Great bargain this week a Garden Room is priced at A$40 per night during the last 2 weeks of July.
That's a 50% DISCOUNT.
One of the most popular areas of India for a beach location is the ex Portuguese colony of Goa.
Goa is best known for its many beaches and its wonderful cuisine.
You can dine on many seafood dishes and great curries that are distinct to the region.
Fifteen kilometers from Panjim, the Goan capital, is Candolim Beach.
The beach in itself is great for families because its very calm and no surk or under currents.
The village is quite spread out so there is not any centre to it as such.
The area around the beach can be termed as resort free as there are not any resorts there.
However, the beach has quite a number of inns at reasonable prices with good facilities.
Another interesting feature about the Candolim beach is the ship River Princess, which has been stuck at the shores of the beach since 2000.
Nearby is the Portuguese 1612 built Aguada Fort which is a great trip to see some of the areas history.
Great accommodation is available through the goavilla.com who will be able to book a Candolim villa with pool in Goa so you can enjoy a great break in Goa
Sailing the Adriatic Sea is a great way to spend your vacation. The blue sea , a wonderful climate and historic ports to visit will make this the most wonderful trip of a lifetime.
Sailing holidays in Croatia can take you to some fantastic, historic towns on the Dalmatian Coast.
The Dalmatian coast offers a number of different towns and cities that were ruled by the Venetian Republic until the 19th Century. All these towns are great historic treasures.
Split is the largest town along the Dalmatian coast and the historic centre is UNESCO World Heritage listed and is best known for the 4th Century Roman Diocletian's Palace.
Dubrovnik the most famous and also the most heavily touristed town is also along the Dalmatian coast and can be visited on your luxury yacht.
You can also island hop though the Adriatic and Hvar historically was the most important Venetian port in the region and today is a great place to vsit, it is one of the most important cultural towns in Croatia.
Mljet is another island worth visiting and is best know for the Monastery of Saint Mary and the Mljet National Park both great places to visit.
Swim every day in another bay, eat at great restaurants and bars and walk every evening in a historic port. Each day you will experience a different island or town on a holiday of a lifetime.
Renting a luxury villa in Sicily can open up a world of opportunities and experiences that you would not normally get from staying in a large hotel. If you want to find a villa that is right for you and your family, you need the right agent who not only understands the area but also the needs of the customer.
Villas offer the unrivalled experience of living like a local, so that you can enjoy the luxurious surroundings of a character property in a relaxing pool, surrounded by lush landscapes and breathtaking sea views.
Finding the right villa in Sicily for your holiday can be a daunting task, particularly when there is a language barrier. There are plenty of websites for renting villas, but sometimes it is just easier to give the difficult task of finding a villa to an agent.
This week's book of the week is Cabin Fever by Mandy Smith.
Mandy lifts the lid on the life of an airline stewardess working for Virgin.
This book is getting plenty of press coverage at the moment and looks as though will be an enjoyable read
Here's a link to an article about the book
Kolkata—The Capital Before Delhi and Much More
Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta, is an Indian city that strikes through its beauty like no other. Known for its yellow taxis and monsoon clouds, the city has something for every type of traveler.
There is a lot you can do here; if you want to cover everything properly, you would perhaps need more than two months. For the sports enthusiasts, there is the The Calcutta Cricket and Football Club, considered the second-oldest cricket club globally. Similarly, the Calcutta Polo Club is globally considered the oldest extant polo club. Other heritage places you must visit are Victoria Memorial, St. Paul's Cathedral, central business district, Howrah Bridge, Vidyasagar Bridge, etc. These sites have to be captured; they’re just too beautiful to be left without a few shots.
What do you like best about your city?
A few transport networks are synonymous with the city’s image. One among these is the hand-pulled rickshaw, which might seem like a cruelty to a few outsiders. Another is the tram; Kolkata was one of the first few cities to have the tram installed.Read More
The Indian City that is Always Alive—Mumbai
The financial capital of India—Mumbai, previously known as Bombay—is a city like none other. They say if you want your dreams to come true, no matter what they are, they can do so in this city, for it has a place for everyone’s dream.
Mumbai is an ever-changing city; everyday, there’ll be new things to do and new places to see. For starters, see the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and its neighbor—the Gateway of India, which was built after the hotel. Take a drive around Queen’s Necklace and have some Indian chaat at the chowpati. Go to CST Terminus and travel through the local trains. These are the city’s lifelines. Visit Juhu beach and the shopping streets of Linking Road and Colaba.
What do you like best about your city?
The continuous struggle that is present everywhere. No road will ever be empty, no area will ever be still, and no night will ever be lonely.
Enjoy the Relaxing Nature of Spa Breaks in Italy
Modern life can often be stressful and difficult to escape from with the many mobile devices and pieces of technology that constantly connect us with work, family and friends. When the time comes for each individual to enjoy their holiday and escape the pressures of life the best option for those looking for relaxation is to spend some time enjoying the many therapies and treatments available at the high quality spa hotels found across Italy.
The chance to unwind, relax and even detoxify is something that many of us do not take enough time to do. Italy spa hotels give each person the chance to enjoy the health giving properties of the many treatments provided by qualified and well trained therapists working within the spa hotels of Italy. Not only are spa hotels a relaxing place to visit, they are also found in some of the most beautiful and historic cities and countryside locations that mark the stunning country of Italy.
Why should we spend some time exploring the options offered by spa breaks in Italy? The country of Italy has a long history of the spa being an important social and health giving part of everyday life dating back to the Roman period. In modern times, the spa has become more of a relaxation location, with good health also promoted by the many treatments offered at modern spa's. Included in these are massage treatments that not only relax the individual, but also provide a good way of reducing the aches and pains that often accompany the modern life we live and growing older.
Many men and women also look to undergo a number of beauty treatments when spending time at one of the many Italy spa hotels.
While there is an inexhaustible list of things that a visitor “must-do” in Chicago, the most valuable advice that I can give is that a visitor “must embrace being a tourist”. Don’t be afraid to stand on the sidewalk and gawk in open-mouthed wonder at the stunning skyscrapers (politely to one side, of course, as Chicagoans value getting places unobstructed). Chicago has a wealth of architecture that is unique and a joy to look at, including the most recent addition – the Trump Tower. Also, consider going to a Cub’s game at Wrigley; at $30 for the cheap seats, it’s a bargain and a fun way to really feel the vibe of the city. Start with some drinks at any of the bars surrounding the stadium and make your way to the gates with the rest of the excited fans.
What do you like best about your city?
Chicago has all the comforts and ease of a big city with a kinder, gentler populace and a cleaner atmosphere due to its abundance of alleyways. The public transportation is easy to understand and efficient compared to other US cities, so anyone can feel right at home in a matter of days. I love the huge variety of restaurants and the over-all attitude of Chicago’s citizens. Chicago has a rich history and you can still feel it walking into any dive bar in Wrigleyville.
During the Christmas season, you can walk from the Christkindlemart in Daley plaza, past the Macy’s windows displays, and down to Millennium Park to go ice skating under The Bean. Not only is it the perfect date night, it’s a great way to see the highlights of the city and get in the Holiday spirit. In any season, walking down the Magnificent Mile, even if it’s just to do some window shopping, is a definite must.Read More
The Mesmerizing History of India’s Ex-Nizam State—Hyderabad Hyderabad—meaning lion’s abode—is the capital city of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. A city that still shows traces of Nizam rule, has a lot to offer than just the beauty that hits you at first glance. From the old-charm lanes of the Old City to the hustle bustle of the new, there is something magical in the air.
While in the city, it’s very important to finish seeing as many heritage sites as possible. Visit the Charminar, Birla Mandir, Hussain Sagar, Golconda Fort, Chowmahalla Palace—to understand how the city was before cosmopolitan change took over. Also, the city is home to more than 140 lakes! There are artificial lakes in and around the city; their names usually end with the word sagar. Also, the cuisine is a must-try. Hyderabadi cuisine is famous for its spices; make sure you taste and don’t swallow everything that comes in front of you. You don’t want to have an upset stomach on your trip. What do you like best about your city? Hyderabad is like no other Indian city. Its uniqueness is its best part. Specially the Old City—you feel as though you’ve entered an old district in perhaps Afghanistan. Also, though the city is crowded, you have recreational options at almost every single corner.Read More