02.08.2013 - 02.08.2013 33 °C
This morning we were up really early to eat breakfast and get our 8am bus to Hoi An. We paid 100,000 dong for the bus and the coach picked us up from our hotel. We were bossed around by the drivers friend, Chelsea was allowed to put her bag in the storage, Liam had to take his on board. Many buses in Southeast Asia also act as a courier service, transporting all sorts of things onto different towns so there was no room for half the passenger’s luggage which was just pilled in the aisle. We were instructed to sit near the back and we were seated right above the noisy and vibrating engine, another joyous bus journey to endure. The journey took around 4 hours with one café break and one stop at a city called Danang and wasn’t too bad.
Once we arrived in Hoi An we were shocked as we were not ambushed by pushy taxi drivers. There was a big map in the station so we located where we were and started to walk towards the guest houses. It soon became clear the map was totally wrong as we were lost, walking around Hoi An with our bags in the rain. We carried on walking and came to the old town. The street names on our map didn’t seem to match the ones we were on so we asked a taxi driver to take us. Luckily he was a nice person and knew we were close so just directed us where we needed to go, shockingly he didn’t drive us around for twenty minutes and charge us. We had researched some guest houses and had picked a couple that looked ok. Our first choice was booked up so we thought we would try next door on the off chance it was nice. We are staying at Nguyen Phoung in a nice double room for $14. It has an en-suite, air-on and a fridge. The accommodation in Hoi An is more expensive that the rest of the towns as it is so popular.
After getting settled in we couldn’t wait to go out and explore and get some lunch. The town is stunning. We made the short walk to the old quarter and wandered around the beautiful streets in the drizzling rain. It is like nowhere else we have been, by far the most picturesque town of our whole eight months of Southeast Asia. The streets are narrow and the shops are small, old colonial buildings. Painted and crumbling plaster adorns the shop houses which are covered in gorgeous flowering bougainvillea plants.
There are a lot of people here but we can see why and there are hundreds of tailor shops selling bespoke shoes and clothing made to order. We found a little café and had a drink and some sandwiches and walked towards the harbour calling in more than a few shoe shops as Chelsea has managed to break both pairs of her sandals. The only annoying thing is the pushy sales people, as soon as you enter any shop or look at a street stall the owners are on to you, pressuring you to look and buy. It is annoying especially if you have a genuine interest in something in the shop but just want to quietly browse.
We called into a café which had a selection of deserts on display that looked amazing and had some Vietnamese coffees and shared a piece of chocolate and almond tart. It was really good. After a wander around in awe at the lovely architecture, shops and harbour we headed back to shower and wait until it got dark before we came out for tea. We decided to seek out the street food vendors across the river and visit the night market. At night time the town is so beautiful. All the shop houses and restaurants hang lanterns outside which light up the streets. The harbour is stunning, both sides lined with romantic paces to linger and take in the views. We found a row of street vendors and ordered a selection of Hoi An specialities to try. We had crispy shrimp wontons, which is a sort of friend flat wonton pancake topped with a filling of vegetables and shrimp. It was delicious but Chelsea managed to ungracefully throw hers down herself. We also ordered white rose, a steamed wonton filled with pork and topped with crispy pork scratching’s. We had Cao Lao, a sort of warm noodle salad which was amazing. It comes in a bowl with egg noodles and loads of salad and herbs, roast pork and crispy pork scratching’s. You mix it all up and dig in…. it is one of the best things we have tried, really yummy! Obviously as well as all this we had some duck spring rolls, obligatory but delicious.
Afterwards we had a walk down the harbour and admired the lovely views. Locals sell floating lanterns that you light and float down the river.
We sat in a bar and had a beer over the harbour for 4000 dong (13p). We still can’t get used to beer being cheaper than water, it’s just not right. On the way back we had a wander down the night market. Some of the things for sale are beautiful, especially the hand painted ink art and the lanterns.
As well as this they sold jewellery and the normal souvenirs you can find on any night market in Southeast Asia. We browsed the stalls but were put off ninety per cent of them by pushy owners who think it is ok to poke and pressure. The whole area however is worth a visit just for the beauty of it; the lanterns lit up are enchanting.
After a great first day we are glad not to be disappointed by Hoi An’s charm and beauty. We can’t wait to explore further and have some days doing different things, a cooking class, a beach day and of course a cycling day. We might also rent a motorbike to visit the My Son ruins.