Hoi An - shoppers paradise :)

Hoi An Travel Blog

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China Beach. Hot, damn hot

Thanks so much for the messages and smiles, guys!  Love jumping on to update and then get a surprise when I read the emails and messages on here.  It is great.  You all know what a sucker I am for home-sickness (normally kicks in after only 2 hours or so). 

Hang in there, Nicole.  Those twins of yours cant come until we get home at least.  Then, it's a free for all. 

Ok, back to Vietnam...........

The bus ride to Hoi An was really pretty.  It took about 3-4 hours up and down hills and along some beautiful beaches.  We stopped to have a look at China Beach but it was about 44 degrees and climbing so we literally got out and then back in the bus again.  Cannot imagine how all those troops got around in uniform and with all their gear here - I'm struggling in short-shorts and a tank top.  Just near here is Danang which is full of remnants of the Vietnam War with old US bunkers and things like that. 

Apart from that though, this is a really beautiful town set on the beach and a river.

Fishing market chaos. This is the source of 'that smell'.
  On the first afternoon we tried to chill out by the pool but it was so stinking hot – even the pool felt warm.  Yes, yes, I am just rubbing it in to all you Melbourners soaking up that hail and wind.

There has been lots of motorcycle catching going on here.  It costs about 80 cents on the back of a bike to get from our hotel into the heart of town.  It is probably a 15 min walk but by the time we get from our hotel room to the foyer, we are all drenched in sweat so any further and the moans and groans from the kids send me spare.  And, I really love the bikes!!!  So do the kids!!!

Yesterday we visited a kids orphanage for mildly and severely handicapped kids from 10 days old to teenagers.  Confronting.  Everything from cerebral palsy to severe autism.  We stayed for a couple of hours just chatting to the volunteer staff who work there from all over the world and also playing with the kids.  It’s amazing that for kids with such disabilities and not a word of English, they could still communicate with us in their own way.

At the orphanage. The kids loved us taking their photos and then looking at themselves on the screens of our cameras.
  Our kids found it a bit of a highlight of the trip and were running around screaming and playing with the kids like they were at home with their mates. 

After that we did a quick bike ride around town.  Just me, James and Lauren on our own.  We had to keep to the one road and head in that direction then turn around and come back because we didn’t have a map and feared getting lost.  With not a lot of english spoken or understood around here - that could be adventurous.  It was great and we saw some interesting things including a few temples and even a little parade.  Heaps of dogs and chickens roaming the street but, unlike Hanoi, they all look really fat and healthy here – just ready for the cooking probably.

For dinner last night we had a cooking class.  It was really cool.  Our chef, Lang, took us through the market (where James learnt to breathe through his mouth because of the fishy stench) and she showed us how to pick out the freshest vegetables and produce for the meal that we were about to cook.

If you'd asked me 2 weeks ago if I'd let the kids on the back of a motorcycle in Vietnam, I would've answered "sure, with leathers, knee/arm pads and helmets" but when in Rome.....
  Then we all sat down with a chopping board and knife infront of us.  Even the kids - never seen so many scared adults in your lives.  Every parent trying to help the kids but the kids wanting to be independant and just chop away.  I was outnumbered (only parent with 2 kids, most had a ratio of 1:1) so I was flipping between James and Lauren expecting to see gushing blood or missing limbs at every look.  Anyway, we chopped and grated and cooked up a storm.  Pumpkin soup, spring rolls, papaya salad, baby spinach in garlic and fish in banana leaves.  Must admit I hate pumpkin soup and fish and yet my plate was clean – I loved every bit of it.  Kids had a ball and said the highlight was being able to chop up stuff – scary for me!! 

We also managed to squeeze in a trip to the tailor for some custom made shopping.  Lauren got a beautiful new dress made and James picked out a nice corduroy jacket.  Of course, you have to have new shoes to go with the new clothes so off to the shoe maker, too.  New runners all round.

Lauren grating up some green papaya for our salad
  Within 24 hours we had our new clothes fitting like....well, like they were made especially for us.  And within 6 hours we had new runners in the colour leather we picked and the designs to match.  The kids have asked if we can just phone these guys from home and ask them to send us stuff....hmmmmm, there’s a thought!

All in all, we love Hoi An!!  Off to Nha Trang tomorrow by plane.  Should be quite a scenic flight I’m hoping.  Not thinking that the plane will be able to climb that high with all the excess luggage we are now carrying – even had to go out and buy a new piece of luggage – ‘genuine’ Polo....only 15,000 Dong.  Bargain!!

Some negatives to date....

·        We did leave our toiletries bag on the bus.

James grating up some turnip for our spring rolls. Yes, they washed their hands.
  I’m talking all medicines, toothbrushes and the all-important-around-here deodorant. 

·        Lauren managed to score a urinary tract infection – never fun.

·        I woke up this morning to find our balcony door wide open – we are on the first floor but near a wall – easy breaking and entering access.  Yep, someone had been in our room.

·        I took a little dive today with Vietnam belly – still think I’d take that over Lauren’s UTI anyday.

Some real positives....

·        Got the toiletries bag back the next day – amazingly enough it still had all my stuff in it – drugs and Christian Dior J

·        In the toilet bag had some medicine for Lauren and me.  Now we are all fit and well - happy little campers again.

·        Nothing was missing from our room – think when I woke up that I must’ve scared them off.  Bit of a wake up call (pardon the pun) for future hotel stays, that’s for sure.




wiseone says:
Loving this place, I want to be there!!! It sounds fantastic, cant believe all the fun things you and the kids are doing. Got your email re medicine waiting for anthony to get home in 1 hour and will text message some professional advice!!! China beach looks so much better that I imagined vietnam beaches to look like. Can't wait to see the outfits too. Better let you go. Take care and lock those doors. Nicx
Posted on: Jul 18, 2007
debbiej says:
Just love it the whole experience looks cool (hot). How are you all going now. Its still really cold here and the weather chap said that we could expect some good weather for the weekend with a top of maybe 15 or 16 can't wait. Keep having fun and sending pics and stories, it keeps us going while we are at work. Take care love deb
Posted on: Jul 18, 2007
Shellann says:
Thanks Deb. Yeah, the orphanage was a bit of a highlight I must admit. The guy in the room is definately up there for one of the scariest things I've had happen. I couldn't sleep afterwards - just kept staring at the kids...think what if's. Learnt my lesson though - deadlocking and putting backpacks infront of the doors now.
Thanks about emailing James' teacher for me. You're the ace-est sis :) As for the Vietnamese banquet on our return - don't worry, it's on the cards. Kids already had that idea. I've bought a Vietnamese apron for the occasion.
Posted on: Jul 17, 2007
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China Beach.  Hot, damn hot
China Beach. Hot, damn hot
Fishing market chaos.  This is the…
Fishing market chaos. This is th…
At the orphanage.  The kids loved …
At the orphanage. The kids loved…
If youd asked me 2 weeks ago if I…
If you'd asked me 2 weeks ago if …
Lauren grating up some green papay…
Lauren grating up some green papa…
James grating up some turnip for o…
James grating up some turnip for …
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