The Curious Monkey at An Bang Beach. Photo credit: Karen Kao

The Curious Monkey Goes To ...

The Beach.

Cham Tower at My Son. Photo credit: Karen Kao

For the past 10 days, we’ve been lying low in a beach house outside of Hoi An. Sure, we’ve gone into town to ooh and aah over the Chinese Assembly Halls and the old merchant houses. We’ve taken the trek north to the old imperial capital of Hue and a ride south to wander through the ancient Cham settlement at My Son.

But sometimes a girl needs to feel sand between her toes. So this has also been a slow time for us. One day trekking, one day sleeping on the beach. This gives me plenty of time to read. Two more Vietnamese works of fiction to add to my collection. Wild Mustard is an anthology of short stories written by up and coming Vietnamese authors. You can read my review of that collection in New Vietnam.

The other is a novel that has long languished at the top of my to-read pile of books. The Book of Salt is many things: a sly look at Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas through the eyes of their Vietnamese cook, a portrait of French colonial attitudes toward “their” Indochinese, a taste of being queer in 20th century Paris. You can read my review of that wonderful novel in Heat.

The Book of Salt is also a mouthwatering account of the foods of Paris. That novel made me want to cook. And so I did. You can read about the hurdles I needed to overcome in my blog post: Into the Kitchen.

Obviously, time at the beach is good for reading and writing. But in a few more days, we hit the road again. Next stop? The Curious Monkey Goes to ... Hanoi.

P.s. If you’re wishing you could see more photos of Cambodia, you can read my guest post for ExpatHikers: Hiking among the Temples of Angkor Wat


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