29 Nov 2019
Known affectionally by locals and westerns as ‘The Granola Guy’, Londoner Peter spent a year travelling around the world before settling down in Hoi An and introducing his popular breakfast snack to Central Vietnam.
Guests at The Watermark, Hoi An beach hotel, can enjoy a bowl of his luxury granola overlooking the pool every morning with their coffee. It’s not only a healthy choice for breakfast it is also vegan-friendly as the recipe uses corn syrup rather than honey.
‘I was bored by what I was having for breakfast here,’ he tells me, ‘I wanted granola. I liked it but I couldn’t find any. I happened to come across a recipe online and tried it out. It came out really well. I sat with my wife eating the first bowl and it was great. I thought I could sell this. I put pictures of the tray on the Hoi An Ancient Town ex-pat Facebook page and about 20 people said they would have some so I spent three months working on the recipe, tweaking it, adding secret ingredients in, working out where to get some ingredients from… I opened for business and it just went crazy after 6 months. Each month we would double our sales and it became clear that I could choose to carry on in a small cottage industry or I could become registered and become official and start a company…’
‘I thought about it carefully because it’s quite a commitment to do it properly but decided to go for it….’
It’s a decision he does not regret.
‘It's been such an all-encompassing and all-engrossing thing because I have such a passion for it. I like that I can now spend most of my time talking to people about it, getting great feedback. Most people are happy to tell you they love your granola. You’re getting constant positive feedback…’
Golfing Around the World
Another one of Peter’s big passions alongside granola that he has been able to pursue here is golf.
‘When we planned our trip all around the world I said it’s a shame I can’t take my golf clubs and my wife said, ‘of course, you have to take them, if you don’t take them we will end up divorced. If we’re together 24/7 then we will end up hating each other. We’ve already got two suitcases, a car seat, a buggy, two backpacks…we already need a porter wherever we go, one more item is not going to make any difference!’
‘So yeah I played wherever we went,’ from South Africa to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand… ‘Even in the South Pacific - on the Cook Islands there was a course next to the airport with special rules because there were big tower masts nearby.’
‘In Australia, I ended up with a regular Friday afternoon four-ball. It was another way into communities as we stayed at most places for a month. When you play golf solo you tend to get put out with other people who are locals..’
‘But of course, I also played here in Vietnam. When I first arrived here travelling there was just one course in Central Vietnam, Montgomery, it was very new. The whole concept of Vietnam golf resorts was very new here. Getting the caddies and the green staff to understand what Hoi An golf is was a real effort.’
‘Local people would say to the Vietnam golf resorts “You’re crazy, you cut the grass every day! You could cut it once a week and save a fortune and manpower. Madness! Of course, you have to cut the grass every day, it’s part of what you have to do.’
‘There’s been golf here for a while but since I first came there are now 5 finished golf courses and another about to open called Hoiana within about an hour’s ride.’
Golf in Hoi An and Central Vietnam
Central Vietnam is now a big hotspot for golf in Asia and Da Nang golf has some spectacular courses and holes.
‘For me, it’s just about the actual layout of the course. My favourite holes are the ones that are on the ocean. When I moved to Hoi An I had a choice between Montgomery and BRG, they are the two nearest ones. They were of a similar price.’
‘Montgomery has no holes on the sea but BRG has a hole on the sea: the 16th hole in which you tee-off heading into the ocean.’
‘I think its one of the most beautiful holes in the world and I can say that having travelled around the world and played a lot of beautiful golf courses. I play once a week on a Wednesday morning at BRG and every week I hit onto the green, I walk up to my ball and I thank-God that I am alive to play this hole in this beautiful setting. TheHoi An Beach is stunning, it’s empty and there are not even any umbrellas. No umbrellas, golden sand, Cham Island in the distance…it’s hard to describe it and do it justice!’
‘Hoiana is the newest golf course. It’s just opening up... That’s got three holes on the ocean which are equally beautiful.’
‘It takes me less than 10 minutes on my motorbike to get to BRG and Montgomery, it takes 20 minutes to get to Hoiana or Vinpearl, another golf course which has opened in the south.’
‘It’s probably an hour to Ba Na Hills but that has got the extra attraction of night golf and pylons and it’s also got the Golden Hands Bridge, one of the world’s most striking bridges, inside the theme park. If you have non-golfers in your party they can go and do the theme park while you play golf so that’s an advantage. Laguna, I haven’t played, but I am assured that it is a very nice place. It is about 2 hours away.’
Peter’s Top tips for Golf
1. Decide Whether to Bring Your Own Clubs
This depends on what package you are on and what class you are flying. I am not a particularly fantastic golfer but I like to play with my own clubs so I always like to take them around with me, that’s a personal decision. If you don’t have them you can definitely hire good quality clubs here. If you are planning on playing for 1 week I would hire from one place – for example, Dragon Golf – and use the same set each week.
2. Decide How Often You Want to Play in Advance
There are 5 golf courses and there will soon be a sixth in Central Vietnam. Typically, if you are going for a golf holiday you’d play 4 or 5 times and you’d have one or two days off. If you’re really hardcore you’d play all 6 days but if you have partners with you you can’t disappear every day. The order you play the course doesn’t matter but it is worth checking with the golf courses to see if they have special offers on each day.
If you are playing one weekend day then the weekend is always more expensive so you might want to pick a premium course on a weekday, it depends on what your budget is.
3. Be Sure to Warm Up
Do you want to go and warm up properly and hit 50 balls before you play? I would definitely advise people to practise on the putting green because the grass is very different from Europe. I struggle to read the greens quite a lot here but I would say I’m quite good at reading the greens in the U.K. The caddie says to me ‘downhill and left to right’ and I say ‘really? That’s downhill?’ And of course she is always right – all the caddies here are women.
4. Always Take a Buggy
On each course, you have to have a caddie but you don’t have to have a buggy on some of the courses. But It’s too hot not to have one. Some people walk if they go out very early but I wouldn’t advise it.
5. Be On-Time
The marshals are pretty effective at getting you to start on time so if your tee time is 10.36 you will go off around 10.36 and they try and keep you moving along’
6. Be Prepared For Some Cultural Differences
‘There is no culture amongst Korean or Vietnamese golfers for letting people play through. In Europe and the U.S, there’s a pace of play, it should be around 4 hours for a round. But if the group behind are pressing behind then the people in front will let them through. They will go for a drink. But they do not do that here. You have to be prepared to be patient. It doesn’t happen every time but occasionally you might get stuck behind a group. I am learning to chill and just relax about it!’
7. Always Tip Your Caddies
‘The caddies get very little of the money you pay so it’s a good idea to give them a tip. We usually tip around đ300,000 each ($15), that’s a fair price. If they are really good and you have a great time then maybe you could give them đ400,000 – đ500,000 each. But don’t give them much less than that.
8. Bring Your Own Drinks
You can drink beer on the courses. I think all of the courses have halfway houses. You can either stop and buy food and drink or you can phone the clubhouse and they will send a buggy out with a delivery to you so I think that pretty much covers it. Some courses you can take your own beer. Generally, they are not that bothered if you do!
9. Bring A Change of Clothes
They’ve all got shower facilities so it’s quite nice to be able to have a change of clothing with you.