Hijinks in Hoi An

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
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Trip End Jan 07, 2011


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010



Our bus to Hoi An wasn't too long (about 4 hours), and had a stop in the middle at a beach called Lang Co, which was pretty nice. Once we got to Hoi An, we realized that the place we'd booked to stay was actually a bit of a hike away, so we carried our stuff through town. It didn't take that long - about 15 minutes.

Hoi An used to be an international trading port, and has a very nicely preserved old town area which is a Unesco World Heritage site - "the best example of Vietnam's yesteryear", as the guidebook puts it. It also has some fantastic local cuisine, including "cao lau" - doughy flat noodles, mixed with bean sprouts and greens, and topped off with pork slices and crumbled, crispy rice paper - it is deeeelicious. Also, most of the restaurants offer a glass of draught beer for about 20 cents, so I could probably get on board with whatever they were serving. All that said, the food we had in Hoi An was probably the best we've had in Vietnam so far.

On our first full day in Hoi An, we did a self-guided walking tour of the old town to check out the narrow laneways, and explore some of the buildings - it was pretty interesting. There are numerous "assembly houses" for different ethnic groups (mainly Chinese) that made up a portion of Hoi An's population in its heyday has a port. There are also numerous restored "old houses", and a covered bridge that was built by the Japanese.

One of the main things we wanted to do when we were in Hoi An was visit the My Son ruins that are about 40km outside of town. These ruins are the most important centre of the ancient kingdom of Champa in Vietnam. We decided that we'd like to go there when it was fairly quiet, so we booked ourselves onto a "sunrise" tour, which left our hotel at 5am (!). It had rained fairly hard overnight, and started raining again on our drive to My Son. Fortunately, when we were walking around My Son, the rain pretty much stopped, so we could enjoy our time there. In more recent times, the Viet Cong had used My Son as a staging ground, and as a result, the area had been bombed heavily by the Americans. We could actually see bomb craters at the site, and it was pretty disappointing to think that buildings which had stood for around a thousand years had so recently been destroyed. Still - what we did see was still pretty impressive, and we enjoyed the tour a lot.

It rained fairly steadily for the rest of the day... We kind of knew on this trip that it would be very hard to visit all the places we wanted to visit at the ideal time, and while I think Sarah (who did 90% of the work on planning this out before we left) did a fantastic job, we were aware that central-southern Vietnam had the potential to be a bit wet. Still - it's pretty rare that it rains all day - usually, there are just fairly intense rains that last about an hour or so. We solved the problem of the rain our first night here by ordering another round of drinks, and watching the rest of the Liverpool-Everton football match that was on TV before we walked back to our hotel once the rain had stopped. That said, Hoi An has experienced some pretty bad flooding the last couple of years, and it was a little surreal sitting in restaurants, and staring up at the walls where they'd marked the flood levels from 12 months ago.

Our last day in Hoi An, we rented a couple of bikes and rode them out to the beach which was about 5km outside of town. These bikes were impressive - big metal baskets at the front, and no gears. We obviously ripped it out to the beach, tearing past some other tourists on bikes who looked like they were going backwards, and didn't understand they were in a race. Cua Dai beach was great, but very quiet (which was fine by us). The winds were fairly high that day, and the waves looked fairly treacherous, so we stayed on shore, relaxing, reading and eating lunch at a restaurant on the beach.

Up next, we're travelling to Nha Trang - which is a beach town in Southern Vietnam - via our first overnight bus, which should be interesting...
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Heather on

Where are the race photos?

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