Hoi An 24th December to 27th December 2007
Hoi An Travel Blog› entry 6 of 17 › view all entries
Another lesson you learn when travelling around Vietnam is that things operate on what the locals call "rubber time". This morning was another perfect example. We were up early to catch the 8am bus to Hoi An. We made our way to the travel agent who we booked our ticket through and were there by 7.45. Eventually a rickety old heap of a bus arrived at just gone 8:00 and we thought things were going a bit too well. We got on and chose a seat and had to move seats about six times because either the aircon or seat recliner wasn't working. Eventually settled in we proceeded to tour the hotels of Hue going to the same one as many as three times!! By the time the 8am bus left Hue it was 8:55 and we were already busting for a pee!!
The journey to Hoi An itself was great, we passed through some beautiful countryside and it was our first proper look at rural Vietnam, as our train journey was overnight and the road to Halong Bay is not the prettiest as it passes through a heavily industrialised region of Vietnam.
As we checked in, the receptionist said that in addition to the $25 room we had splashed out on for xmas, a $30 room was available so we took a look and WOW; we decided to take it as it made the very nice $25 room look rubbish. We have probably the biggest bed we've ever slept in which makes for a nice change for Adam, as for most of this trip his feet and a good part of his lower legs have been poking out the bottom of the beds. Above the bed we have a beautiful circular mossie net which lends the room a fairy tale look; to add to this was the imposing furniture of oversized, carved dark wood. We also have a balcony which overlooks a quiet street (or as quiet as they get in Vietnam).
We headed into town for a wander and to get a feel for the place. Hoi An has a really beach town kind of feel yet it's not actually on the beach, if that makes any sense. It is best known for the literally hundreds of tailors who will knock up made-to-measure clothing for relatively cheap prices. No sooner were we walking around that the staff of the many shops were imploring us to buy from them.
We went to the local office of the agent who booked our onward tickets to Nha Trang and it's a good job we did as he'd failed to register our tickets so no space had been reserved on the bus for us. They sorted it out easily enough without any fuss but it goes to show that it's always best to check these things.
We wandered into the old town area, which to be honest is no different to the "new centre". There is a river front with quite a few restaurants on it but they are all at least double the price of the restaurants that aren't on the river and its not as if the river provides an exceptionally pretty view. We decided to cross a bridge to some restaurants that looked inviting on the other side and found a really charming little place which had an extensive veggie menu. The family running it were beyond sweet. We had a lovely meal and super cheap too then when we'd finished we were brought a dessert (bean paste surround by sticky rice and coconut all wrapped up in a banana leaf) and a cup of coconut green tea. Delicious or as you say here 'ngon tuyet'.
We had a frustrating stroll around the market where most of the stall holders seem to have been spoilt by the copious numbers of short stay tourists who pay full asking price for everything; which ruins it for everybody as it creates a two tier price structure, one for locals and one for westerners!! We can't stress enough that you have to haggle no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. Paying top price actually has an inflationary effect on all produce which only hits the poorer Vietnamese locals hardest. Don't get us wrong a few thousand Dong is nothing but as usual there is a bigger picture. Back at the hotel we took advantage of the swimming pool to cool off which I'm sure I needn't say but was fantastic.
In the evening we went to see the tailor we felt most comfortable with and decided we'd get two suits made each as well as a dress for Steph.
We had a few beers at a nice little bar called "Same Same Not Different" before eating at a restaurant called "Same Same But Different", we ate upstairs on a balcony which at one point had twelve ghecko's on the ceiling. We just said how weird it would be if one fell on us when, SLAP, one landed right on our table!! Good job the food hadn't arrived or our tofu in tomato sauce would have become 'a la ghecko'.
Xmas morning was a leisurely affair. As we'd planned for this stop on our travels apart from getting the suits made we have absolutely no agenda. We had a very filling buffet breakfast at the hotel before lazing by the pool alternating between some strenuous reading and doing a few laps in the cooling water. We investigated an internet cafe but it was way too slow so we headed for a midday beer and strolled around the town before going for the fitting for our suits.
Xmas dinner was back at the friendly restaurant across the river where we did the traditional Xmas thing and ordered far too much food but still managed to stuff it all in until we felt totally bloated. Aaahh Xmas. We waddled back to the hotel and enjoyed a few beers on our balcony in between calls from family which were really nice (merry Xmas everyone) which rounded off our Xmas day perfectly.
Boxing Day we woke up to glorious weather and so after our usual super strength Vietnamese coffee we decided to rent a couple of bikes and head for the beach. The 30 minute ride there was lovely, through the town then out past paddy fields and a river to Cau Dai beach. It was great to finally have sand beneath our feet and paddle in the sea. The first beach of many we expect to laze on over the coming months. We were accosted by dozens of people wanting us to rent a couple of sun loungers in front of their restaurants, which are free if you eat, or 10,000 each otherwise (down from the 30,000 each they will initially ask for). We chose a quite little place further along the beach to get away from the people with kids. We were lapping it up sitting under our thatched grass umbrella, taking dips in the sea, enjoying the cold beers until we both realised that we were a bit tender!! We'd started taking our anti-malarials in Hue and we are on Doxycycline, a side effect of which can be sensitivity to the sun!! Oh dear!! We settled up and hot footed it back to the hotel; the ride back only taking 20 minutes!! A cold shower and a prolonged dip in the cool water of the hotel pool couldn't save us.