To get to Hoi An involved a 5 hour bus to Natrang and then a sleeper bus. And who should get on our sleeper bus but our two northern lasses we had left in Laos! After attempting to catch up across the bus and pissing a few people off I settled down to my dairy Lee cheese and pringle baguette. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
After spending our first morning in Hoi An bleary eyed and weary we set off in the afternoon to discover what this French and Chinese influenced town was about. I fell in love with the winding streets filled with silk shops and tailors. I loved the cafes fronting the river and the lanterns hanging from every available space. I loved my iced Vietnamese coffee we sipped whilst watching the world go by. I loved the won ton dish I ate which is local to this region. I loved the aubergine hot pot that Zorro got. Before this we hadn’t managed to get the tasty Vietnamese food that travellers we’d met had harked on about.
That evening we had dinner with the girls and caught up over a few beers. Only beer as it is the cheapest thing to drink. Not because I like it. The next day me and Zorro moved hostels which was a calamity in itself. The hostel we had stayed at was over our budget so we had tried to find somewhere cheaper for the next night. And we thought we had done that as we haggled down a room to less than what we were currently paying and the hotel included bikes. However when we checked out of the hostel it turned out the room was a lot cheaper than it said it was online. But still we had a nicer room now at a similar rate. Then when we checked in to the new place it turned out the bikes weren’t actually included in the price, they just can provide them. So after all that effort we didn’t save any money at all, we actually lost money. Ugh. Still lesson was learnt to confirm the price of the room when checking in.
We hired bikes along with the girls and cycled to the beach which took twenty minutes in some rainy showers along flat roads through villages. To park our bikes and to get a sun bed you had to buy a drink. When I saw the waves I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And that was body board. I hadn’t done it in years since our family holidays to Cornwall and France and I was itching to have a go. We managed to borrow two off a nearby hotel so me and Monica set off. They were the best waves with nearly every one being rideable. Wheeeeeeee!
On the way back to Hoi An we stopped at a pub selling cider. Oh yes! Cider is extremely hard to come by in Asia so this was a perfect end to the day. And it was happy hour. That evening after dinner where I had another local speciality of white flowers, we walked into town to see the lanterns being lit. Hoi An is famous for its lanterns and in the evening locals sell candles in paper lanterns to float in the river. It all looks lovely for the half an hour or so that they last but I have a real problem with floating lanterns either in the sky or water. There’s two issues here, one is the waste. Are the lanterns environmentally friendly and can decompose? And the second is the danger. How do you know when you set one off that it won’t end up landing on something that is highly combustible and cause a fire? I’ve seen photos of them landing on horses wearing rugs causing the horse to essentially burn alive. Think before you use them and ask the right questions. Will somebody be clearing the mess out of the river later? Are the materials harmful to river life if left? Especially in Vietnam when so many locals rely on the river for food and water.
After everyone had had their fill of the river lanterns we perused the night market for trinkets and souvenirs and presents. On the way back we got talked into having a drink at a bar by the rep. Silly us beleived him when he said free drinks. If it sounds too good to be true… It probably is.
The next day we left for Hue by bus whilst our friends were riding mopeds up. I was sad to leave as this had been a little treasure of a town.