Over the Hai Van Pass to Hoi An
Trip Start Oct 04, 2011
50Trip End Nov 29, 2011
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Hue to Hoi An today over the Hai Van pass - the road that was featured in the Top Gear program. Along the roadside were a lot of old ruined tombs all overgrown and higgledy piggledy and tumbled down - very picturesque (just not possible to photograph them from a car window). The road and the railway (the Reunification Line linking Hanoi to Saigon) run sandwiched between the lagoon and the hillside to start with - lush tropical vegetation on one side and fishing boats on the other. There is quite a lot of evidence of the war here - at the top of the pass as well as a fort from the 1800’s there were pill boxes from both the Vietnam and Indochina wars, One of the beaches near Da Nang - Red Beach - was the place where both the French in the late 1800;s and the Americans first landed in Vietnam. We stopped at China Beach which was the US Marine’s R+R place during the Vietnam war - the main road is built down the runway and there are still hangars and other buildings. However on the seaward side of the road they are building large resort complexes - it looks like this is going to be the Benidorm of Vietnam, a lot of people from Hanoi come down to here for their holidays
Stopped at the Marble Mountains - as features in Michael Palin’s Full Circle (?) program. There are five mountains (large hills) - each representing one of the five elements - earth, water, fire, wood metal .On the metal one there are a lot of caves with statues of Buddha and Lady Buddha (one of his disciples - I think). The caves had some holes to the outside and the incense smoke was visible in the sunlight streaming through them and made it very atmospheric.
Then to Hoi An - the centre of which is traffic free (well ,car free and occasionally motor bike free - but not today!). There are lots of what they call tube houses - long narrow houses (like we saw in Hanoi) - with shops at the front and living quarters at the back. They mainly belong to the Chinese merchants who settled here in the 17th century. Lots of tailors shops all offering to make a suit or dress for you and have it at your hotel by this evening! It’s tempting but I am trying to resist, as what looks beautiful here would look out of place back home in England.
Lovely hotel just out of the centre - four poster bed and an enormous granite bath that a small child could have a swim in!
Have just got back from a wander round the town at night - the river is lit up with lanterns and everywhere feels very safe to walk around. Its not as busy as I thought it would be and the shop keepers are not as pushy as I thought they'd be. I've succombed and ordered a replacement pair of shorts for the pair that I have worn to death on this hoiliday - they will be ready at 11am tomorrow - Navy, linen 3/4 length shorts made to measure costing £8 - sounds too good to be true so I'll report back tomorrow. You could get anything you wanted made up overnight - ball gowns to duffle coats! There are also lots of shoe shops and some wonderful boot shops - the temptation is too much!