A perfect holistic day in Hoi An Vietnam
6:30am – To get up or not to get up
It’s always the same when I’m on vacation. I’m in a quandary: to sleep in or not to sleep in. Three significant reasons vote for not getting up:
- Just because I’m on vacation and this is the time to relax and go with the flow.
- I (or the person next to me in bed) might have paid an incredible large amount of money for this stunning hotel room, so I better make a dent in the buckwheat pillow that I’ve handpicked from a pillow menu.
- Darn! These pillows and the blanket are extra super soft in the morning and nestle me like a young bird in a fluffy nest.
But then the reasonable voice in my head kicks in and talks about the benefits of getting up, that sound like this:
- Be proactive, be in charge and make things happen. How often will you be in Hoi An Vietnam?
- The quite time in the morning is a treat. Enjoy the peace and be grateful for a brand new, gorgeous day. Celebrate that you are alive.
- Tune your body with the earth’s circadian rhythms. Watch the sunrise. It is a powerful stimulant for your biological clock (especially helpful when you’re still jet lagged). The exposure to sunlight releases the happy hormone serotonin, which fosters optimism and satisfaction.
So how do we get out of this dilemma? Of course we split tasks. He stays in bed and takes care of the pillows. I greet the day in Hoi An Vietnam, which is going to be a holistic one.
7am – Meditation class
Wow. This is powerful stuff. I walk from the villa along the beach to class. The soft, yellow sand trickles between my toes. A light breeze moves my hair softly in the wind. I feel like a soap opera star when gratitude hits me. My eyes absorb the beauty and my heart the peacefulness of this place.
I already feel in a meditative state when I arrive at class. I leave my shoes at the entrance and settle on the floor. I’m not in desperate need of relaxation and de-stressing. But our teacher from Mumbai explains that meditation is so much more.
Mediation is to observe your thoughts and to become aware that you have a choice in reacting or not reacting to thoughts. After all thoughts are just thoughts and not reality. So I enjoy the moment and try not to worry about the future or the past.
8am – Hatha yoga class
This should be easy as pie. After all this is a resort not a yoga retreat. Also Hatha yoga is great for beginners as it is done at a slow pace combined with simple breathing exercises.
And that is where we start: deep breathing exercise (which apparently is great preparation for my upcoming race in Angkor Wat) and some “Om” chanting (which I kind of do but not self-confident at all). The explanation why I shouldn’t be shy about chanting is the following:
Nothing is really standing still in the universe. Everything vibrates and pulsates on some frequency! And when we chant “Om” we chant on the same vibrational frequency (432 Hz) that is around throughout everything in nature.
As I try to twist my body into a pretzel shape the sweat is coming. Whether I can tip my nose with my toes? Seriously? Not only does yoga increase flexibility and it prepares you for Cirque du Soleil auditions. It also boosts your immunity at a cellular level and forces you to focus at the task at hand (yes which is also an extension of the mediation class).
In case yoga is too hip for you, let me remind you it doesn’t have to be yoga. Any regular exercise in the morning boosts mood and fitness, provides energy throughout the day and helps to create deeper sleep cycles.
9am – Breakfast
After my extremely mindful start into the morning I’m really looking forward to some nourishment for my body.
Even though I am traveling under the pre tense that I’m from Canada I found a German news memo on my breakfast table. Darn, who blew my cover? I guess that’s what great guest service should feel like: attentive but invisible at the same time.
I never had congee before, so I would like to try it. The rice porridge is believed to tonify the blood and qi energy as well as harmonizing the digestive system. The staff is outstandingly observant, realizes my congee helplessness and walks me through the proper process of eating my breakfast choice so that I don’t look silly and end up with strawberry jam in my congee.
Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup made from broth and spices, is a popular street food and serves the locals as a meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So I go for it. After all it’s a nutrient dense and a low calorie breakfast option. Homemade bone broth is rich in gelatin, collagen, glucosamine and minerals and considered the new superfood. The fresh herbs and sprouts that float on my pho are packed with calorie free enzymes and vitamins.
I finish with a rich Vietnamese iced coffee served with creamy, sweetened condensed milk. It’s basically like coffee infused dessert while watching the waves breaking on the beach.
10:30am – Spa
I get pampered with a traditional Vietnamese massage. Nuong welcomes me with a liver supporting mint & liquorice tea. I get to choose my massage oil and go for the uplifting “Orient” scent with mandarin, patchouli and ylang ylang. Unfortunately after 60 minutes my ‘chi’ seems to be balanced and I have to leave.
Really, is there anyone out there who doesn’t like to get a massage? You don’t need to twist my arm to get me into a massage room. But if the soothing and energy exchanging touch from an unfamiliar person makes you feel uncomfortable listen to this (which are all things that need improvement after a long flight overseas):
- Reliefs muscular tension or pain
- Improves circulation
- Improves lymphatic drainage
- Improves joint mobility
1pm – Lunch in Hoi An Vietnam
Where to start? For someone who adores fresh food and doesn’t back away from new flavors and dishes, Vietnam is heaven. Hoi An is home of some specialty dishes (cao lau, white rose and fried wontons) that we are about to sample at the family owned restaurant Miss Ly.
Sorry, just a picture of the menu. There was really absolutely no time to take pictures of the dishes (gobble, gobble, finger licking).
What makes Vietnamese food special? Tons of fresh herbs like mint, basil, cilantro, lemongrass, garlic, ginger combined with stinky fish sauce, seafood, pork, beef or chicken and rice in various forms (noodles, steamed, porridge).
The dishes are simple but never, never boring. Eating in Vietnam is a symphony of yin and yang, cooling and heating, sweet and salty, and fresh and fermented.
French colonialism has left a mark too and Anthony Bourdain’s TV show “No Reservations” led us to the most outstanding place in town to indulge in a crusty French baguette filled with Vietnamese delights. What can I say? You have to taste it to understand. It was the best sandwich ever. Just the right amount of warm baguette with THE perfect crust, sandwiched with an explosion of Vietnamese flavours. We indulged into grilled chicken with cheese and pork ham and pate.
Oh ja. If you have time, see one of the hundreds tailors that create your dream dress or suit in less than 48 hours. For me, it was too much of a decision making process for my holistic relaxed day in Hoi An Vietnam.
4pm – Villa on the beach
The hotel library has probably more German books than any German hotel library. I pick one and settle with complimentary drinks from the mini-bar, complimentary Nhan fruit, ocean-view and a huge sun bed with tons of cushions on our private sundeck. Please don’t disturb, I’m about to nap. Can it get more relaxed?
5:30pm – Lap pool
Is it guilt of “laziness” or the urge of using all the amenities of The Nam Hai Hotel before we leave? I grab my goggles and try to look like I know what I’m doing at the lap pool (yes this one is just for laps. You can also hang out quiet pool or not so quite pool, which is quite anyway).
Argh, how long is this lap pool anyway? The pool wall just seems like ages away (this is how you feel when you practice in a 25 meter pool and then find yourself swimming in an 50 meter Olympic size pool).
The Health Club also features badminton, tennis and basketball courts, the latest fitness equipment and rental bikes in case you got more energy to get rid of before dinner.
7pm – Dinner
Overlooking miles of sandy beach, I have a choice of fresh seafood, grills and popular local fare. Banana blossom salad, sea bass on banana leave with lotus seeds and for dessert mung bean dumplings delight my palate. Oh, I am in heaven right now.
Did I mention that some dishes feature produce and herbs from the hotel garden? Seven gardeners cultivate the land. Unbeatable freshness and finest organic nutrition reflect in the taste of the beautiful designed dishes created by a staff of 65 chefs and cooks.
I’m happily exhausted and reflect today’s adventures at the bar with a breathtaking view of the Cham Islands. Time to hit the pillow to get ready for a new adventure. Maybe I’ll join the hotel chef’s cooking class, which includes a grocery shopping tour at the market tomorrow?
What’s your next adventure?