30th July 2012
Up and off to breakfast at 08:30 and everyone discusses there plans for the day, some are shopping some are off to the beach. I decide to have a relaxing morning and catch up with my journal and pack ready for our departure tomorrow. In the afternoon I'm meeting the others for a motorbike tour at 15:30.
We set off on the motorbikes and head along the river and the head in land down some dirt tracks. As we head out further into the country we start seeing large bomb craters surrounded by banana trees and filled with water. My driver points at them and then says bang bang Americans. As we ride along we see water buffalo and field upon field of rice. We stop by one of the paddy fields and Bond says we should get off the bikes and walk out into the field for a group photo. The pathway is just a raised narrow strip of dirt with water filled rice paddies on both sides. As we head out into the field Tracey looses her footing and one foot slips straight into the mud and water. We mount our bikes again and our next stop is like a small area of allotments where they are growing a huge range of vegetables and herbs. We watch as one guy walks along the rows of plants with cone shaped watering cans on either end of what looks a bit like a yolk. Bond our guide decides to give this a try and finds its not as easy as it looks and is very heavy. We head off again and soon we are at the beach so it's time for a 15 minute rest and a beer. The beach is very busy with local people and we are told that the locals only come here in the late afternoon and early evening as its to hot the rest of the day and they don't want to darken their skin. We finish our beers and head back to the hotel.
We all meet up for dinner and then the discussion turns to the normal subject, who's going to the bar! We decide for ease we will walk back to the hotel and stop in the "Old & New" bar a few hundred meters from the hotel. We get in and the place is empty. Before long the drinks are flowing the music playing which is self selection off YouTube and some of us are dancing. As the evening continues more and more is being drunk and I manage to get behind the bar and before long the group follow me for a photo op. Not long after the owner of the bar grabs a chair and starts dragging people up on the pool table to dance, I don't need to be asked twice !!
The evening continues and there seems to be drinks coming from every direction including a few free ones from the owner. Behind the bar he has a small collection of bank notes and coins from various country's so I give Him some euros and a £5. This doesn't end there and Hans starts helping the owner super glue a load of coins he has in his pocket to the mirror. I duck behind the bar again and grab the super glue and stick my pre paid credit card up (it's an old one with no money on, well I think it is?) A few more drinks and a lot of photos later and we all head back to the Hotel as tomorrow we leave Hoi an and head to Ho chi Minh city (formally Saigon before the war). We say our good nights and head up to bed. I creep into the room and try to make sure I don't wake me room mate as its 01:40 in the morning.
A highlight of any trip to Vietnam, Hoi An is a town oozing charm and history, having largely escaped the destruction of successive wars. Once a sleepy riverside village, it’s now quite definitely a tourist town – with hotels, restaurants, bars, tailors and souvenir shops dominating the old centre. Despite this air of irreality, Hoi An’s charisma pervades.
The local People’s Committee periodically clamps down on touts, and while this doesn’t mean a completely hassle-free visit, a stroll down the street is usually more relaxed here than in Hué or Nha Trang. Hoi An is pedestrian-friendly: the Old Town is closed to cars and the distances from the hotels to the centre are walkable. It’s a great place to hire a bike.
Known as Faifo to Western traders, from the 17th to 19th centuries it was one of Southeast Asia’s major international ports. Vietnamese ships and sailors based here sailed all around Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.
Perhaps more than any other place in Vietnam, Hoi An retains a sense of history that envelops you as you explore it. This is especially true on ‘Hoi An Legendary Night’. Every month on the full moon, motorbikes are banned from the Old Town, which is transformed into a magical land of silk lanterns, traditional food, song and dance, and games in the streets.
Every year during the rainy season, particularly in October and November, Hoi An has problems with flooding, especially in areas close to the waterfront. The greatest flood ever recorded in Hoi An took place in 1964, when the water reached all the way up to the roof beams of the houses. In late 2006 the town bore the brunt of the worst typhoon in 50 years.
There’s plenty to do in Hoi An. Emphatically the most enchanting place along the coast, this is one spot worth lingering in.