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Trying new foods in foreign places could be considered adventurous, at least for a small town girl like me. Add two motorized wheels to the mix, winding through busy Asian intersections—one would think the experience might be juxtaposed: eat a spring roll, toss up said spring roll in fear as oncoming traffic threatens—and you’ve got a recipe for too much adventure. But surprisingly, foodie tours by motor scooter have become the new urban adventure that everyone is asking about.
I recently experienced our Foodie by Vespa tour in Hoi An, Vietnam. At present, Goway offers these tours in Saigon, Hanoi, Hoi An, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Chiang Mai. While I haven’t personally tried them all, I’ve been told they all follow the same pattern.
While there are several adventures to choose from, the most popular are the evening foodie tours. Maybe it’s the assault to the senses—sidewalk smells meet evening headlights—or perhaps it’s just that people let loose a little more in the evening. Whatever the reason, here is what your clients can expect from one of Goway’s Vespa Foodie tours.
We were picked up at our hotel by scooter at around 5:30pm. The Vespas are imported from Italy (circa the 1970s), but souped up and look like brand new. Armed with a helmet and a water bottle, we set off for our adventure through the surrounding countryside of Hoi An. Driving down dirt pathways between rice paddies, I take video (look mom no hands) of farmers, adorned in their conical hats who haven’t yet called it a day. By the time we reach the Old Quarter of Hoi An, darkness has fallen.
Our first stop, the Tap Bar for a classical Vietnamese Mojito. Okay, maybe not so classic but still very tasty. It’s a great little space serving the local favourites.
Then onto The White Rose, a family business passed down over four generations originally hailing from Kunming, China. This restaurant is the only one in all of Vietnam that crafts this impressive dim sum-like flower dumplings filled with pork and sprinkled with deep fried shallots. As part of the tour, we got to try our hand at making the dish ourselves, but not only did it not look easy, it wasn’t easy! I was happy to realize that we wouldn’t be eating our creations but rather those of the experts.
We jumped back on our Vespas and turned the corner until we came across this small street food stand—just four tables with chairs that looked like they came out of an IKEA children’s furniture catalogue. The shop owner has had this spot mapped out for over 30 years. Every night she comes to her place on the side of the street and makes one dish and one dish only: the Banh Khoai. Loosely speaking, it’s a savoury pancake filled with pork goodness topped with peanut sauce. No tourists in sight because quite honestly, who would ever think to pull up a children’s chair and eat here? Each serving was 20,000 VND or 86 cents US. I think this shop owner is brilliant. Don’t make the chairs too comfortable. You want your customers to come, eat, and go, which we did.
Up next, the Vespas took us down by the river to board a boat and watch the Hoi An lanterns of blue, red, and yellow light up the night. Just a short trip, enough to allow the Banh Khoai to digest before our next meal and make a wish of course and we lit our candles and placed them into the river for good luck.
Next up was this funky rice cracker with fried river fish and our choice of beer or rice wine. I tried the local Bia Larue. While I’m not usually a beer drinker, I would have to say it was a refreshing change and in case you are wondering, no, the Vespa drivers only cheer us with water bottles.
To confuse us, we then drive a good distance, over a bridge, turn left, turn right, turn left, pass the dock and travel along the river until we get to a local seafood restaurant complete with aquariums teeming with lobsters and river fish. But here we have the local Vietnamese Hot Pot that cooks up slices of fine beef mixed with greens which we wrap in softened rice paper to make our spring rolls. Yum. Now I was three drinks in so I switched to the local Vietnamese vodka with soda.
Remember, I’m a small town girl. All this adventurous food needed a little liquid courage. What I loved best about this stop was that it was right along the river but not in the touristy area. This is where the locals go to unwind. There was a group of young men celebrating a successful business year on the table beside us—all in business attire, ready to let loose. And to our right, a group of girls willing to test their vocal cords to the latest karaoke. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, we are all essentially the same.
And our final stop not far from our hotel was one last bar where big screen TVs aired the Dubai soccer cup featuring Japan against Vietnam. The room was lit up in excitement. Team Vietnam were the underdogs, but they kept the Japanese team at bay. Every save was a near death experience. The crowd went wild. I don’t even like soccer, and I found myself sitting at the edge of my seat, cheering from pure osmosis.
And while the energy peaked and fans cheered, we dined on local snakefish, aptly named for its snake-like appearance. I don’t even like fish, but by this point, everything tasted sublime.
By last call, I was stuffed.
Team Vietnam didn’t win in the end, but they put in a valiant effort, as did I. Not an adventurous foodie by birth, I had tried a bit of everything and had to say, I loved it.
Foodie tours by Vespas offer a unique way to see a city from the inside out. Your clients will feel like they’ve lived like a local. For a full listing of all of Goway’s “Live like a Local” experiences and all the fun things to see and do in Hoi An, check out our website.
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