CHARMING HOI AN....
From Nha Trang we got the sleeper bus to the riverside town of Hoi An. The coach journey was rather eventful when whilst stopping for a toilet break a foreign lady on one of the bottom beds in the coach jumped up screaming "RAT!!" This caused pandemonium but the alleged rat wasn't to be seen again, thankfully!
Twelve hours after leaving Nha Trang we arrived in Hoi An. In usual Vietnamese style we were hounded by taxi drivers the second we got off the coach but it turns out our hotel (Dai Long) was only 50 metres away from where the coach had stopped which was handy. We checked into our nice family room (we must have been upgraded!) and had a sleep, seeing as it was only 7 a.m, before going out to explore the town.
Hoi An is a trading port town dating from the 15th to 19th century. In 1999 the town was recognized as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site based on it been an exceptionally well preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port.
Hoi An immediately struck us as a really charming place and one which had a very European feel about it. We spent the afternoon exploring the historic old town.
After reading our guide book we understood that in the old town there was a bridge dating back to the 16th century called the Japenese Covered Bridge which has been adopted as Hoi An's emblem. So the first bridge that we came to we assumed that that ws the bridge and started snapping away. It was only when we looked down the riverside and saw a bridge that looked a lot more ancient and was actually covered that we realised that we'd been photographing the wrong bridge!
Hoi An is renown for it's tailor shops and it is fair to say that every other shop is in fact a tailor's shop. This was good for me in that they all sold really pretty clothes, but not so good for James as I was dragging him into almost every shop looking for something to buy!! I could have quite easily bought loads but seeing as my bag is pretty much busting at the seams already I only bought one top!
James managed to practice his bartering skills too at the local market when he got himself a t-shirt of the Vietnamese flag for a bargain price!
As we were roaming round the market we bumped into a local lady who had spoken to us earlier. She owned a tailors business in the market and wasted us to go and have a look at pictures of the clothes she had made. Although we didn't have any intentions on buying anything we went with her just out of curiosity. After following her round the maze of the market we finally arrived at her pitch where she sat us down at a table and gave me a copy of a photo album of the clothes she had made for people. She gave James a copy of the Next catalogue for him to look at and to point out anything he would like her to make! We eventually convinced her that we didn't need any more clothes but she was pretty persistent!
After we were all explored and shopped out we went back to our hotel to chill for a while before dinner. Conveniently for James, and what has become a recurring theme so far, the football was on!
After the football had finished and by which time we were feeling pretty hungry we went out for dinner. We roamed up and down the riverside aimlessly looking for a restaurant which had been recommended by the lonely planet. When we eventually found it, nobody was eating there so we decided to go to a street kitchen which we'd past shortly before and which was heaving with travellers. This was our first experience of a street kitchen and not knowing quite what to expect we were extremely impressed with how tasty and cheap the food was. In fact we both agreed that it was the best meal we'd eaten since we'd been away.
We were so impressed with the food that we returned in the morning for banana pancakes! These were equally as delicious as dinner!
After breakfast I dragged James round some more clothes shops before we got the bus onto Hue early afternoon.
We both really enjoyed Hoi An and could have quite easily have spent a few more days there, especially as the beach is only 3 km away and the weather was really nice. It will definitely be on the "places to visit again" list!
So until next time, bye folks xxx