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This article was originally posted on Urban Adventures.

I’m sweating. Since arriving in Vietnam, in fact, I have been in a state of perpetual perspiration. It’s a hot and humid land, and I am an Englishman not used to such hot and humid lands. But this particular sweat is a unique type of sweat — one induced by pho. And not just any pho, no. I’m in the midst of the best bowl of pho I’ve ever tasted.

Beside me sits Luong, my 25-year-old Urban Adventures guide from the previous day. We’re hanging out now because she wanted to bring me here, to this tiny Anthony Bourdain-approved pho stall in Hoi An’s central market. There isn’t another tourist in sight. It must be obvious by the kind of noises I’m making that this humble bowl of soup is blowing my mind.

“I told you it was good.” She smiles.

Luong grew up close to Hoi An, in Thang Binh district. So she knows the town well. She’s been an Urban Adventures guide here for close to seven months, after spending seven years in Ho Chi Minh (where she studied English language and literature for four years, and worked as a tour guide for three).

Photo: Oliver Pelling

I keep slurping. I don’t want this meal to end. It doesn’t taste like any other bowl of pho I’ve ever slurped before. The broth tastes more …

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