Delightful & Charming Old Vietnam
27.11.2010 - 30.11.2010 27 °C
The majority of the bus journey to Hoi An was on scenic mountain roads. We arrived in Hoi An and the bus driver did the 'usual trick' and dropped us off at a hotel where he had 'a connection' and as we retrieved our bags from the hold, we were pounced on by hotel staff informing us they had the best quality and cheapest rooms in town. Previously we have always replied that 'we have already booked a room elsewhere' in order to escape their inisistent sales approach, however the price they offered for the rooms here was low and a couple of other travellers who were sat in the bar outside the hotel told us it was a good place to stay. So we viewed a room and decided to stay at least for one night. After checking in we walked into the centre of town and made our way down to the Thu Bon River. We immediately liked Hoi An immensely, with its narrow lanes lined with cafes, restaurants, shops and a pedestrianised system operating in the old town (keeping out the mopeds!). Traditional Vietnamese lanterns lit the streets and the An Hoi footbridge was illuminated with dazzling oriental lanterns and giant illuminated oriental animals floated on the river, along with traditional Vietnamese wooden boats. We made our way to a restaurant on the riverside and enjoyed an upstairs table with open verander offering views over the river and old town. We tried one of the local specialities, fried 'Hoanh Thanh' (Wontons), fantastic as was the rest of the meal. The next day we hired bikes and explored the area further, starting with the 'Japanese Covered Bridge' which as the name suggests - has a roof for shelter The bridge also has a Temple built into it, a monkey guarding one entrance and a dog guarding the other based on it being the year of the monkey when construction began and the year of the dog when the bridge was completed (1593). We also made time to wander around the arts and craft shops where we also saw local women making silk lanterns and visited the 'Reaching Out' workshop and shop which sells fair-trade gifts - and their profits support disabled artisans. We then made our way to a recommended 'Tailor-made clothing' shop (one of Hoi An's specialist trades) and Chris was measured up for a new suit. The next day we returned to the shop at 11am for Chris to try on his suit and after a couple of amendments the fitted suit was ready by mid afternoon. In between trips to the tailor shop we managed to cycle around a couple of the nearby islands and experience more of 'old Vietnam' with locals going about their daily routines in their residential streets. In the evening we enjoyed some more local specialities down by the river, including 'White Rose' a type of Shrimp rice paper/pancake and a Vietnamese hotpot and washed it down with some local brew. Hoi An is certainly our favourite place that we have visited in Vietnam so far offering a glimpse of tradional Vietnam that we had been hoping to see, even without sunshine we loved our time there!