one of the best meals I've had
is the most beautiful city I have visited during my travels to Asia so far. I spent 6 nights there and only left because I was running out of time to see the rest of the country. This place has it all: history, culture, friendly people, delicious seafood, beautiful beaches and even a friendly whale shark to play around with whenever you are bored!
We flew to Da Nang
and decided to avoid taking a taxi from the airport and hopping on the local bus instead. Big mistake!! When we arrived at the bus station it was too late for a bus and there was no one willing to help us or give us any kind of advice.
For fresh seafood head to Hai San restaurant
The only people interested in us were some scetchy taxi drivers that were trying to rip us off. And it didn't stop there. When we headed out to the main road trying to hail a cab, the taxi men followed us and made sure that no one else would take us by interfeering with our negotiations. After about half an hour of being stuck in darkness in Da Nang we eventually hailed a taxi, managed to block off those guys and off we were! For anyone travelling to Hoi An by flying to Da Nang my advice is: unless it's early in the day and you know the bus schedule, just take a taxi directly from the airport. It will save you a lot of hassle. I have to say that this is the only negative or uneasy experience I had in Vietnam. The reality is that, along with Nepal, Vietnam is the friendliest country I have visited thus far and its people are extremely hospitable.
view from Japanese bridge
Proof of this was that, only an hour after our arrival in Hoi An we met a local who not only informed us of a beach party but also phoned her friend to pick us up and take us there free of charge! The following night, we were invited for drinks with the locals at a taverna that provided dry squid and cheep beer with ice. We sang, danced and had a great night. Yo!
We ate the best seafood I've ever had at Hoi An Hai San, a small restaurant located on the riverfront which is owned by a Swedish chef. We had fresh calamari, clam, prawns, crab and a huge snapper which was around 7-8 hours fresh. I will never forget that meal. We also had some really good nights in the town, even though it's a quiet place and almost all bars close at 12:30. The bars are really stylish though and nothing beats chilling out on the beach followed by a midnight swim!
We also organised a dive out in Cham Island.
The beach at Hoi An
We did that with Cham Island divers which offer daytrips to the island that include two dives, snorkelling and lunch next to the beach. It was only my 5th dive and the first one outside Malaysia. Even though the amazing corals and fish that we experienced in the perhentians were missing, it was my best dive to date. The seabed is full of caves and narrow chasms which make for a great dive next to the rocks. After we had come up to the surface and while I was swimming back to the boat, I saw a group of divers frantically swimming towards something. I could hear them screaming out of enthusiasm but could not tell what they were saying. Nonetheless it seemed like it was something definitely worth seeing. I turned around and swam as fast as I could towards the group. With my regulator on, I sunk my head in looking eagerly for something deep in the water. And then I looked up towards the surface... About 2-3 metres in front of me was a 6 metre-long whale shark looking at me straight in the face. The initial fear was followed by excitment when I saw how calm this huge creature was and how everyone was being friendly with her. We swam next to it, patted its back and held on its tale and fin for the swim of our lives.